Sanofi-Aventis has entered into a cancer collaboration with the Manchester, UK-based stem cell specialist Epistem.

Specifically, the deal relates to the use of Epistem's biomarker gene expression profiling and immunohistochemistry technologies. Under the terms of the three-year agreement, the biotech may receive up to $4 million in research support payments including the reimbursement of certain costs.

The collaboration "is expected to inform Sanofi oncology programmes with a biomarker strategy aimed at identifying biological responses to drugs in relevant tissues", Epistem said. It noted that the translational nature of the pact means activities will cover preclinical, ex vivo and clinical support.

Epistem chief executive Matthew Walls said the link-up "represents an important milestone for the company as we continue to exploit our biomarker technologies which are well positioned to support and streamline the drug development process".