Sanofi-Aventis has forged a deal with the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences that will enable it to capitalise on the increasing evidence of the role of cancer stem cells.

Centre to the agreement is isolating acute acute myeloid leukemia stem cells and subsequently to generate monoclonal antibodies against these cells.

The Institute of Hematology and Blood Diseases Hospital at the CAMS is one of the largest of its kind in China, while Sanofi says it now has a "significant presence" in China and is conducting a number of clinical trials in the country.

Earlier this month, AstraZeneca said it is to open its first clinical pharmacology unit in China through an alliance with the Peking University Third Hospital. The aim is to “enhance local clinical research capabilities and speed up access to new medicines to benefit Chinese patients”. Meanwhile, Novartis has also become a heavy investor in China, shifting its focus away from India after losing a crucial patent battle there. It also announced at the end of last year plans to build a $100 million R&D centre in Shanghai, its eighth and largest investment in the country.

Sanofi is presenting a pipeline update today, see our special report in tomorrow's PharmaTimes News Online