Sanofi has licensed a potential treatment for Crohn's disease from India's Glenmark Pharmaceuticals.

The drug in question is GBR500, a novel monoclonal antibody to treat Crohn’s and other chronic autoimmune disorders. It is a first-in-class antagonist of the VLA-2 (alpha2-beta1) integrin and has completed a Phase I study in the USA; the treatment has been well tolerated with a good pharmacokinetic profile.

Under the terms of the agreement, Glenmark will receive an upfront fee of U$50 million, of which $25 million will be paid upon closing of the transaction. The remainder is contingent upon Sanofi’s "positive assessment of certain data" to be provided by the Mumbai-headquartered firm.

In addition, Glenmark could receive potential success-based development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments worth over $600 million, plus double-digit royalties. Sanofi is getting exclusive marketing rights in North America, Europe, Japan, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, and co-marketing or co-promotion rights in Brazil, Russia, Australia and New Zealand. Glenmark will retain rights in India and the rest of the world.

Sanofi R&D chief Elias Zerhouni said “there continues to be a strong medical need for safer and more efficacious products for the treatment of inflammatory diseases”. He added that GBR500 "may address a significant gap" in treating such conditions.

Glenn Saldanha, Glenmark's chief executive, said the deal validates his company's "world-class innovative R&D capabilities in the drug discovery area" The two firms are already working together on investigational treatments for pain, after a deal worth up to $325 million was signed a year ago.