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Sanofi and Regeneron boost investment in cancer drug cemiplimab

PARIS (Reuters) - France's Sanofi (SASY.PA) and U.S Regeneron (REGN.O) said on Monday they would inject an additional $1 billion in the development of cemiplimab, an antibody that could, if successful, be used to treat a wide range of cancers.

In a statement, the two companies said they would also accelerate the co-development of dupilumab, a "multi-targeting" drug approved in the United States and Europe to treat eczema and undergoing tests to help treat asthma, nasal polyps, eosinophilic esophagitis and food allergies.

"The investment in cemiplimab will be increased to $1.64 billion, an increase of approximately $1 billion over the initial 2015 agreement and Sanofi and Regeneron will continue to equally fund cemiplimab development," the two groups said.

Cemiplimab is currently being studied as a monotherapy and in combination with other therapies in several cancers including advanced skin cancers, non-small cell lung cancer, cervical cancer and lymphomas.

"The companies expect to submit U.S. and EU regulatory applications for cemiplimab in advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma in the first quarter of 2018," Sanofi said.

Sanofi, whose shares have underperformed major rivals in recent years, has embarked on a strategy to rebuild a strong position in oncology.

The world's sixth largest drugmaker said last month it expected to file nine medicines for regulatory assessment by July 2019.

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont, editing by Richard Lough and Louise Heavens)