China's ZAI Lab in-licenses global rights on Sanofi NSCLC candidate

China's ZAI Lab has in-licensed a novel multi-kinase inhibitor aimed at a non-small cell lung cancer target from Sanofi as the firm, led by well-known biotech executive Samantha Du, builds its on deep Greater China trial and regulatory experience.

In the case of the candidate from Sanofi ($SNY), ZAI will handle global development, manufacturing and commercialization, while Sanofi will potentially receive development and regulatory approval milestones and tiered royalties from the global net sales of the licensed product, according to a press release.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Dr. Samantha Du

"NSCLC is a serious disease with large patient population and unmet medical needs in the world, especially in China," said ZAI Lab founder and CEO Du, who is on the boards of Beta Pharma, JHL Biotech and BGI Tech among others as well as co-founder and chief scientific officer of Hutchison Chi-Med.

"We are very excited to partner with Sanofi on this innovative program that may significantly improve patients' survival outlook and quality of life." The candidate may also be explored for other oncology indications.

ZAI Lab, according to the press release, has successfully taken 5 novel drug candidates into clinical trials in China, conducted multiple IND trials in the U.S., and brought the first China-discovered drug into global Phase III trials.

In March, ZAI Lab in-licensed from Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) China rights to the Phase III liver cancer candidate brivanib, an oral kinase inhibitor for oncology indications including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Under those terms, ZAI Lab will be responsible for developing, manufacturing and commercializing brivanib in China, though BMS will have an option to co-promote the drug.

ZAI will pay BMS development milestones and tiered royalties if brivanib is approved in China.

The global development of brivanib was halted by BMS in 2012 after it missed the primary endpoint of noninferiority to sorafenib in improving overall survival in the Phase III trial. BMS said the company does not have immediate plans to develop brivanib outside of China.

For Sanofi, the deal with ZAI Lab indirectly builds on its plans announced in October last year that saw the opening of a major new R&D center in Shanghai.

The center plans to employ 1,400 staffers while bringing together the drug development work being done in a dozen different Pacific Rim countries; highlighting its new role as a central dealmaking spot, Sanofi also put out the word on two new research partnerships that will be coordinated in Shanghai.

- here's the release (PDF)