Sanofi Expands US Vaccine Venture In COVID-19 Race

Under the collaboration, Translate Bio is using its mRNA platform to discover, design and manufacture vaccine candidates and Sanofi Pasteur is providing its deep vaccine expertise to advance vaccine candidates.

COVID19

French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi has announced to invest $425 million to expand its vaccine development venture with US start-up Translate Bio as they aim to find a COVID-19 vaccine by next year.

The companies have been working together since 2018, hoping to leverage Translate Bio’s work on new messenger RNA (mRNA) drugs that cause cells to create a specific protein for treating a range of diseases.

The expansion of this agreement will further unite Translate Bio’s expertise and knowledge from more than 10 years of mRNA research and development with Sanofi’s leadership in vaccine research and development.

Under the expansion agreement, Translate Bio will receive a total upfront payment of $425 million, consisting of a $300 million cash payment and a private placement common stock investment of $125 million at $25.59 per share representing a 50 percent premium to the 20-day moving average share price prior to signing.

Translate Bio will also be eligible for potential future milestones and other payments up to $1.9 billion, including $450 million of milestones under the 2018 agreement. Of these potential milestones and other payments, approximately $360 million are anticipated over the next several years, inclusive of COVID-19 vaccine development milestones.

In addition, Translate Bio is also eligible to receive tiered royalty payments based upon worldwide sales of the developed vaccines. Sanofi Pasteur will pay for all costs during the collaboration term. Under this agreement Sanofi Pasteur will receive exclusive worldwide rights for infectious disease vaccines.

Under the collaboration, Translate Bio is using its mRNA platform to discover, design and manufacture vaccine candidates and Sanofi Pasteur is providing its deep vaccine expertise to advance vaccine candidates into and through further development. Translate Bio will also transfer technology and processes to allow Sanofi Pasteur to develop and manufacture mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases.

The teams are currently evaluating multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates in vivo for immunogenicity and neutralizing antibody activity to support lead candidate selection and the companies have the goal of initiating a first-in-human clinical trial in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The companies are also advancing an mRNA vaccine development candidate against influenza through preclinical studies with clinical trial initiation anticipated in mid-year 2021. Additional mRNA vaccine development programs under the collaboration include another viral pathogen and a bacterial pathogen.

In a statement, Sanofi said they have “multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates” in the works and hope to start a clinical trial with humans in the fourth quarter of this year.

“We believe that adding this mRNA platform to our vaccines development capabilities will help us advance prevention against current and future infectious diseases,” said Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president at Sanofi Pasteur, the firm’s vaccines unit.

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