|Aventis Pharma And Millennium Add 11 Discovery Projects To Joint Drug Development Pipeline For Inflammatory Disease|
Alliance Achieves Progress in Industry's Leading Inflammatory Disease Drug Development Collaboration
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: MLNM) and Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. the pharmaceutical company of Aventis S.A. (NYSE: AVE) today announced that they have expanded their joint development pipeline to include 11 discovery projects that were previously being pursued outside the joint collaboration. The new drug discovery assets include chemokine receptors, kinases and integrins, which are major druggable target classes in inflammatory disease research. The additional drug discovery projects were added to the collaboration by both companies as they aggressively pursue the joint development and commercialization of small molecule drugs for the treatment of inflammatory diseases in five major areas: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis.
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With the addition of the 11 new discovery projects, the Millennium-Aventis alliance now has approximately 50 jointly funded discovery projects, the majority of which have advanced to high-throughput screening and chemical optimization phases. With the combined efforts of more than 350 scientists from the two organizations, these initiatives will pave the way to building the industry's leading inflammatory disease pipeline, with the goal of moving one or more compounds into human clinical trials as early as the first half of 2003.
After formation of the alliance in June of 2000, initial joint research activities by Aventis and Millennium combined pre-existing programs and formed cross-platform task forces to capitalize on synergies in chemistry and biology. The collaborators have successfully brought joint efforts at both companies to near full-strength operational levels, resulting in an integrated and powerful gene identification, gene validation, and drug discovery program in the inflammation area. Chemists and pharmacologists are actively engaged in small molecule optimization efforts to advance drug discovery projects downstream. Teams from the two companies are now working to establish commercial priorities and related strategies to support Early Development Candidates (EDCs) as they move into human clinical trials.
"When Millennium and Aventis joined forces one year ago to collaborate 50/50 in the discovery, development and commercialization of drugs to treat inflammatory disease, it was the first biotechnology/pharmaceutical company alliance of its kind. Today, we believe that the progress achieved thus far demonstrates the combined strength and shared vision of the two companies," said Mark Levin, chairman and chief executive officer at Millennium. "As Millennium expands the breadth and depth of our downstream capabilities, we are increasingly focused on building critical mass in our key franchise areas, and committed to evolving our exclusive alliances to achieve a strong market presence that will ultimately address the unmet medical needs of patients around the world."
"Aventis is extremely pleased that the alliance with Millennium has achieved such significant goals in the past year," said Dr. Frank L. Douglas, executive vice president and head of Drug Innovation & Approval for Aventis Pharma AG. "We are particularly excited by the expansion of the alliance to significantly augment our joint pipeline in anti-inflammatory drug development. Aventis continues to be optimistic and aggressive in working with Millennium to build the world's leading program for the development and commercialization of drugs for inflammatory diseases."
The 11 additional drug discovery projects for the inflammation field come from Millennium's previous collaborations with Kyowa Hakko Kogyo, Ltd. and Warner-Lambert Company (now Pfizer, Inc.) and from the collaboration between Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc. (now Aventis) and Proscript, Inc. (now Millennium). These previous royalty-based collaborations will now be subject to the terms of the joint Millennium-Aventis collaboration, including joint development, commercialization and profit-sharing in North America.
Progress in Technology Transfer
During the past year, the alliance achieved its technology transfer milestones resulting in the transfer of significant technology from Millennium to Aventis. Millennium's high throughput sequencing platform is now in use at the Aventis Cambridge Genomics Center with the expectation that it will be used for a unified sequencing system across the Aventis organization. In addition, the full suite of Millennium's molecular pathology technologies and processes (including supporting software) are currently being established at the Aventis Bridgewater facilities. These capabilities will be key components to optimize the success of the companies' joint inflammation research efforts. Earlier this year, Aventis established a state-of-the-art data center to support the vast amounts of information utilized globally by all the Aventis locations.
Aventis and Millennium Alliance Background
Millennium and Aventis formed a unique alliance in June 2000 to jointly develop and commercialize drugs for the treatment of certain inflammatory diseases; jointly develop new drug discovery technologies; and transfer key elements of Millennium's technology platform to Aventis to enhance its existing capabilities. The agreements also provided for the purchase of an equity interest in Millennium by Aventis. At the time this $450 million relationship was established, it was the first biotechnology/pharmaceutical company alliance of its kind. Millennium and Aventis Pharma are working collaboratively and exclusively to identify small molecule drug targets, develop new small molecule drugs in the field of inflammation, and jointly commercialize the resulting products in North America. In all other countries, Aventis Pharma has exclusive rights to commercialize the resulting products, with royalties paid to Millennium.
Millennium, a leading biopharmaceutical company, applies its comprehensive and integrated science and technology platform for the discovery and development of breakthrough therapeutic and predictive medicine products, with a goal of delivering personalized medicine. Through the industrialization of this gene-to-patient platform, Millennium is also striving to accelerate the process of drug discovery and development. Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., Millennium currently employs more than 1,400 people.
Aventis (NYSE: AVE), a world leader in pharmaceuticals and agriculture, is dedicated to improving life through the discovery and development of innovative products. In 2000, Aventis generated group sales of 22.3 billion euros, and employed approximately 92,500 people in its Pharma and Agriculture businesses. Aventis announced in November 2000 that it intends to focus on pharmaceuticals and plans to divest its activities in agriculture. Aventis was launched in December 1999 through the merger of Hoechst AG of Germany and Rhone-Poulenc SA of France. Corporate headquarters are in Strasbourg, France. For more information, please visit: www.aventis.com.
Aventis Pharma AG is the pharmaceutical company of Aventis. Aventis Pharma is dedicated to treating and preventing human disease through the discovery, development, manufacture and sale of innovative pharmaceutical products aimed at satisfying unmet medical needs. Aventis Pharma focuses on important therapeutic areas such as cardiology, oncology, infectious diseases, arthritis, allergies and respiratory disorders, diabetes and the central nervous system disorders. Aventis Pharma has its corporate headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. Aventis Pharma encompasses Aventis Pasteur, a world leader in vaccines based in Lyon, France, and Aventis Behring, a world leader in therapeutic proteins headquartered in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, USA.
For Aventis: Statements in this news release other than historical information are forward-looking statements subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially depending on factors such as the availability of resources, the timing and effects of regulatory actions, the strength of competition, the outcome of litigation and the effectiveness of patent protection. Additional information regarding risks and uncertainties is set forth in the current Annual Report on Form 20-F of Aventis on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
For Millennium: This press release contains "forward-looking statements," including statements about our growth and future operating results, discovery and development of products, potential acquisitions, strategic alliances and intellectual property. Various risks may cause Millennium's actual results to differ materially, including: adverse results in our drug discovery and clinical development processes; failure to obtain patent protection for our discoveries; commercial limitations imposed by patents owned or controlled by third parties; our dependence upon strategic alliance partners to develop and commercialize products and services based on our work; difficulties or delays in obtaining regulatory approvals to market products and services resulting from our development efforts; and the requirement for substantial funding to conduct research and development and to expand commercialization activities. For a further list and description of the risks and uncertainties we face, see the reports we have filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Editor's Note: This release is available on Millennium's Web site at: www.millennium.com and at the Aventis website at: www.aventis.com.
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SOURCE Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
CO: Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Aventis S.A.
08/13/2001 07:59 EDT prnewswire.com