Sanofi-Aventis is continuing to grow its diabetes portfolio by signing a deal with the USA’s CureDM to get access to a novel human peptide, Pancreate, which could restore a patients’ ability to produce insulin.

Under the terms of the deal, the French drugmaker could pay out up to $335 million (the size of the upfront payment has not been disclosed) to get an exclusivee worldwide license for the treatment. Pancreate (proisletide acetate) is a first-in-class bioactive peptide sequence of a naturally occurring human protein that has been shown in preclinical studies to stimulate the growth of new insulin producing islets in the pancreas and Phase I studies are planned for later this year.

Sanofi’s R&D chief Marc Cluzel said that “once fully developed, Pancreate has the potential to become the first regenerative treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and to address the challenges that the growing diabetes epidemic poses”.

The Paris-headquartered company added that the CureDM link-up is “another example of the company’s strategic commitment to sustain its leadership in diabetes through new technologies”. Earlier this year, Sanofi said that one of its ambitions is to replace Novo Nordisk as the leading diabetes company.