Sanofi invests in mRNA vaccine centre

Article by Amanda Jasi

SANOFI will invest about €400m (US$472m) annually in a first-of-its-kind vaccines mRNA Center of Excellence, to help accelerate end-to-end vaccine R&D.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, mRNA technologies demonstrated potential to deliver new vaccines faster than ever before,” said Jean-Francois Toussaint, Global Head of Research and Development at Sanofi Pasteur. “However, key areas of innovation such as thermostability and tolerability improvements will be critical to unlock the applications of mRNA in routine vaccination against a broader set of infectious diseases and across all ages.

“The Sanofi mRNA vaccines Center of Excellence aims to lead the field in this next chapter of vaccine innovation.”

The centre will work to accelerate development and delivery of next-generation vaccines. It will bring together about 400 dedicated employees integrating end-to-end mRNA vaccine capabilities with dedicated R&D, digital, and chemistry, manufacturing, and controls (CMC) teams across sites in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US and Marcy l’Etoile, Lyon, France.

The focus will be on innovating mRNA vaccines beyond pandemic to routine use in diseases with high unmet need.

The centre is expected to accelerate the vaccines mRNA portfolio developed though Sanofi’s existing collaboration with mRNA therapeutics company Translate Bio. In 2018, the companies announced a multi-year R&D collaboration and exclusive licensing agreement to develop mRNA vaccines for up to five undisclosed disease pathogens. The collaboration was expanded in 2020.

Sanofi says it is dedicated to rapidly establishing an industry-competitive mRNA platform and is working with partners and relevant stakeholders internally and externally to achieve this.

Thomas Triomphe, Executive VP and Global Head of Sanofi Pasteur said: “While mRNA won’t be the solution for every infectious disease, its translation into routine prevention could have immense impact for many unmet public health needs. It now becomes a critical new technology in our comprehensive vaccines toolbox, one which could help reinvent health protection in the future.”

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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