Sanofi has linked up with the German applied research group Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to discover antibiotics derived from natural products.

The French drugmaker and Fraunhofer have announced the creation of "a natural product centre of excellence" to accelerate the discovery and development of new therapies to treat infectious diseases". The partners, noting that penicillin was derived from a natural product, will collaborate to "identify and optimise novel naturally-occurring chemical or biological compounds", mainly in the field of infectious diseases but this could be expanded to cover other indications such as diabetes, pain and rare diseases.

Sanofi says it will share its strain collection, one of the world’s largest  consisting of over 100,000 different micro-organisms, with Fraunhofer, will "bringing its know-how in anti-infective research". R&D chief Elias Zerhouni noted the need for research, "given the rise of antibiotic resistance worldwide especially in the hospital setting with increasingly frequent serious, often life-threatening infections, where few advances have been made in the recent years".

He added that the pact with Fraunhofer is unique "as internal and external scientists will work together as one team on common projects, in shared labs to acquire new knowledge".