SANOFI will acquire its partner Translate Bio in a US$3.2bn deal to further develop mRNA vaccines and therapeutics.
Sanofi and Translate entered a collaboration to develop mRNA vaccines in 2018, and this was further expanded in 2020. The collaboration has two ongoing clinical mRNA trials, with a Covid-19 vaccine candidate in phase 1/2 trials and a seasonal flu vaccine in a phase 1 trial.
Translate is also working on developing mRNA therapeutics for pulmonary diseases and has a candidate in phase 1/2 trials for an inhaled treatment of cystic fibrosis. The mRNA technology could be applied to a wide range of diseases, including ones that affect the liver.
Under the merger agreement, Sanofi will now buy all outstanding shares of Translate’s common stock to the value of US$3.2bn in order to accelerate development of mRNA therapeutics and vaccines. The acquisition is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2021.
According to The Financial Times, Sanofi has been lagging behind with Covid-19 vaccine efforts and is trying to catch up with Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna. As well as the vaccine in development with Translate, Sanofi is also developing a recombinant protein vaccine with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) which is currently in phase 3 trials. According to The New York Times, the original phase 3 trial for the Sanofi/GSK candidate was halted in December 2020 after it emerged that it did not produce a sufficient antibody response in older participants. A stronger formulation of the vaccine candidate was then developed which entered phase 3 trials in May. Sanofi has also provided manufacturing support to Moderna, BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson.
Paul Hudson, CEO of Sanofi, said: “Translate Bio adds an mRNA technology platform and strong capabilities to our research, further advancing our ability to explore the promise of this technology to develop both best-in-class vaccines and therapeutics. A fully owned platform allows us to develop additional opportunities in the fast-evolving mRNA space. We will also be able to accelerate our existing partnered programmes already under development. Our goal is to unlock the potential of mRNA in other strategic areas such as immunology, oncology, and rare diseases in addition to vaccines.”
Ronald Renaud, CEO of Translate, said: “With Sanofi’s long-standing expertise in developing and commercialising vaccines and other innovative medicines on a global scale, Translate Bio’s mRNA technology is now even better positioned to reach more people, faster. We believe that this acquisition will strengthen the team’s ability to achieve the full potential of the mRNA technology.”
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