* Milestone fees could be as much as $54.5 mln
* Agreement for three years
* Genfit to focus on cardio-metabolic discoveries
* Shares surge as much as 19.4 pct
PARIS, March 17 Genfit ALGFT.PA said it signed a deal with Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA) to try to discover treatments for metabolic disorders, which the drug giant will develop and market in return for royalties on sales.
The Lille-based biotech expects to fetch milestone fees of as much 16 percent as $54.5 million through the agreement.
News of the deal pushed shares in the company up as much as 19.3 percent, giving it a market value of close to 60 million euros ($83.67 million).
Forms of metabolic disorders include Type 2 diabetes, which is spreading worldwide, high cholesterol, osteoporosis and obesity. Genfit's input would focus on cardiometabolic disorders, or those that can damage the heart.
Genfit Chairman Jean-Francois Mouney told Reuters the agreement was for three years but he declined to identify which diseases the companies would try to find a cure for, other than that the search would be wider than diabetes.
"With Sanofi we have an agreement with a company for whom the development in cardiometabolic disease is a true priority," Mouney said. "I have no reason to think this (agreement) will not last longer."
He said the agreement reflected the new type of alliances between big pharma and biotechs that involve innovative products that are at an early stage of their clinical development.
"The new mentality is that of risk sharing which means that it can bring in more attractive revenues," Mouney said.
Sanofi will also pay Genfit a sum every year to conduct research. ($1=.7171 Euro) (Reporting by Caroline Jacobs and Noelle Mennella; Editing by James Regan)
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