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Sanofi-aventis Enters Into Research Collaboration With Columbia University to Develop New Diabetes Treatments

BRIDGEWATER, N.J., March 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Sanofi-aventis (EURONEXT: SAN and NYSE: SNY) announced today a research collaboration with Columbia University Medical Center for the development of innovative diabetes medicines.  This three-year research collaboration, with the laboratory of Dr. Gerard Karsenty, will investigate the role of the osteoblast-secreted peptide, osteocalcin, in diabetes management.

In a landmark paper published in the research journal Cell in 2007, Dr. Karsenty, the Paul A. Marks Professor and Chair of the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University, and colleagues revealed that bone-forming cells called osteoblasts produce osteocalcin, a hormone that influences blood sugar levels and fat deposition.  These findings provided the first in vivo evidence of endocrine regulation of energy metabolism by the skeleton and opened the door for an entirely new area of exploration for novel pathways, targets and therapies directed toward metabolic disorders, including diabetes.

"We have spent more than a decade uncovering the biology of osteocalcin," said Dr. Karsenty, "so we are delighted to have sanofi-aventis as a collaborating partner to help us continue this research."

The collaboration will benefit from the extensive biological expertise of Dr. Karsenty and his team around osteocalcin and its role in metabolic regulation, while leveraging sanofi-aventis' long and successful experience with drug discovery and development.

"Sanofi-aventis strives to deliver innovative and integrated patient-focused solutions for people living with diabetes, and this collaboration with Columbia University is an opportunity to collaborate with leading scientists on a new approach to diabetes management," explained Dr. Paul Chew, Senior Vice President, U.S. Chief Science Officer and Chief Medical Officer, sanofi-aventis U.S.  "Sanofi-aventis is excited to work with Dr. Karsenty and his team to help translate their findings into potential new therapies that benefit patients."  

Under the collaboration, sanofi-aventis will sponsor research in Dr. Karsenty's laboratory and has an option to license and develop existing patents and results that may arise from the research into potential diabetes treatments.  Financial terms of this agreement were not disclosed.

About Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic, widespread condition in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, the hormone needed to transport glucose (sugar) from the blood into the cells of the body for energy. More than 230 million people worldwide are living with the disease, and this number is expected to rise to a staggering 350 million within 20 years.  It is estimated that nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, including an estimated 7 million who remain undiagnosed.  At the same time, approximately 40 percent of those diagnosed are not achieving the blood sugar control target of A1C <7 percent recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The A1C test measures average blood glucose levels over the past two-to three-month period.

About sanofi-aventis
Sanofi-aventis, a leading global pharmaceutical company, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of everyone.  Sanofi-aventis is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY). For more information, please visit:  

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