UK-based drug discovery company C4X Discovery (C4XD) has signed an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with Sanofi for access to its oral pre-clinical IL-17A inhibitor programme.

As part of the agreement, C4XD will receive an upfront payment of €7m as well as up to a further €407m in potential development, regulatory and commercialisation milestones for the programme.

Under the license, Sanofi will develop and commercialise an oral therapy for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

C4XD’s IL-7A inhibitor programme works to selectively block IL-17 activity in vivo, while maintaining molecule size of the therapy in the traditional ‘drug-like' range suitable for oral administration.

IL-17s are a family of cytokines that have been linked with inflammation, and are implicated in a number of autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

Currently, treatments that target IL-17 are monoclonal antibodies that are administered via an injection, reflecting the need for safe and effective oral small molecule therapies to increase access to IL-17 targeted drugs.

“We are proud to be working with Sanofi to create much needed oral therapies in the underserved inflammatory disease space,” said Clive Dix, chief executive officer of C4XD.

“While antibody therapies have demonstrated the potential of IL-17 inhibition in the generation of highly effective treatments, the injectable route means many patients currently do not have access to the medicines that can change their lives. We believe that our small molecule programme has the potential to create high value, efficacious and convenient oral IL-17 therapeutics for this large market,” he added.