Sanofi Seals two Oncology Partnerships

14.01.2016 -

French drugmaker Sanofi has simultaneously announced collaborations with two biotechnology firms, together worth up to €1.2 billion.

The first link-up, worth $750 million (€690 million), extends an existing partnership with privately held Warp Drive Bio of Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Here, the partners have extended and reshaped an earlier collaboration utilizing Warp Drive’s proprietary SMART (Small Molecule Assisted Receptor Targeting) and Genome Mining platforms to discover novel oncology therapeutics as well as antibiotics.

The French pharmaceutical company has been a major investor in and strategic partner of the US start-up since the latter’s inception in 2012. The joint project now being kicked off will focus on developing drugs that target important human oncogenes, including RAS, which has one of the highest mutation rates in cancer.

As part of the arrangement, Warp Drive will retain the right to deploy its platforms against other targets, alone or in cooperation. The US firm will lead the research cooperation for five years, and Sanofi will receive exclusive licenses to develop and commercialize candidates discovered within that period.

Another focus will be new antibiotics targeting Gram-negative bacteria.

Sanofi’s second collaboration, worth up to €400 million in milestones as well as royalties on net sales, is a research and licensing agreement with Marseille-based Innate Pharma to apply Innate’s new proprietary technology to the development of bispecific antibodies using natural killer (NK) cells to engage and destroy tumor cells.

The two companies will work together on the generation and evaluation of up to two bispecific NK cell engagers using the Innate technology and Sanofi’s proprietary bispecific antibody format and tumor targets. Sanofi will be responsible for development, manufacturing and commercialization of any products resulting from the collaboration.

The two partnerships underscore Sanofi’s intention to catch up with rivals and become a presence in cancer research, observers said. In the past, the French drugmaker was largely a non-player in immuno-oncology, an omission the company’s new CEO Olivier Brandicourt has said he hopes to change.