Sanofi-Aventis has established what it calls a "powerful alliance in oncology" with the USA's Belfer Institute of Applied Cancer Science, part of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

The French drugmaker says it is getting access to Belfer’s cancer target identification and validation platform and translational medicine capabilities, plus an exclusive license option to develop, manufacture and commercialise "the innovative compounds directed at the targets identified and validated under the research collaboration". In return, Dana Farber will receive $33 million in upfront payment and research funding for a minimum of three years.

Dana Farber, a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School which Sanofi states is "among the leading cancer research and care centres in the USA", will also be entitled to various milestone payments and royalties. Belfer says it specialises in cancer genes essential for tumour maintenance, "and translating basic discoveries into new effective therapies for cancer".

Ronald DePinho, Belfer's director  said that by combining our expertise in cancer genetics and translational medicine with Sanofi's excellent drug discovery and development track record, this alliance has great potential to change the practice of cancer medicine". Sanofi's chief of oncology, Debasish Roychowdhury, added that Belfer is an ideal partner because "translating research findings from academia to developing cancer drugs in the industry is a complex task that requires the collaboration of the best in the field".