Elias Zerhouni

Sanofi seals double oncology research deals

pharmafile | January 11, 2016 | News story | Research and Development, Sales and Marketing Sanofi, Warp Drive Bio, antibodies, collaboration, immuno-oncology, research 

Sanofi has signed two separate research agreements for €1.2 billion, which will give the French firm licensing rights to potential new oncology therapies, antibodies and other drugs.

One deal is with biopharma firm Innate Pharma, which specialises in discovering and developing first-in-class therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases. The Company has three clinical-stage programs, including two checkpoint inhibitors in immuno-oncology. The second deal sees Sanofi partnering with Warp Drive Bio, a privately held biotech company.

The Innate Pharma deal focuses on immuno-oncology, to use Innate Pharma’s proprietary technology to develop up to two antibodies that engage natural killer (NK) cells to kill tumour cells.

Under the terms of the license agreement, Sanofi will be responsible for developing, manufacturing and marketing of products resulting from the research collaboration. Innate Pharma will be eligible to up to €400m in development and commercial milestone payments as well as royalties on net sales.

 “Over the past year, Sanofi has launched strategic corporate collaborations in the field of immuno-oncology that exemplify our commitment to open innovation in R&D and have the potential to transform the treatment of cancer,” says Gary Nabel, Sanofi’s chief scientific officer. “Working with Innate Pharma, we seek to create new bispecific antibodies that will focus the immune system to kill cancer cells by engaging natural killer cells.”

While Nicolai Wagtmann, chief scientific officer of Innate Pharma says: “There is a lot of excitement around bispecifics in immuno-oncology. [Our] new technology platform is complementary to our innovative portfolio of first-in-class antibodies targeting immune checkpoints. We intend to use it for our internal portfolio expansion, as well as through non-exclusive agreements with other companies, such as in this agreement with Sanofi.”

Meanwhile Sanofi and Warp Drive, who already work together through Sanofi’s Sunrise initiative, a strategic partnership model that invests in early stage opportunities, have begun a new research collaboration.

The partnership will focus on developing drugs that target important human oncogenes including RAS, a gene which has one of the highest mutation rates in cancer. As well as immuno-oncology, the partnership will also look at developing new antibiotics targeting Gram-negative bacteria.

Warp Drive Bio retains the rights to deploy its platforms to pursue discovery and development against all other targets, both alone and in collaboration with other companies. The new collaboration will give Warp Drive funding and milestone payments of more than $750 million.

“Our partnership with Warp Drive is a perfect example of open innovation which allows Sanofi to collaborate with innovative companies and combine unique areas of expertise to advance drug development in a meaningful way”, says Elias Zerhouni, president of global R&D at Sanofi. “This is an exciting collaboration for Sanofi as it could yield potentially lifesaving oncology and antibiotic therapies for patients by utilising cutting-edge technology platforms.”

Laurence Reid, who is chief executive of Warp Drive Bio, says: “This reshaped alliance enables joint and independent product development by Warp Drive, an important step in our evolution as we advance a therapeutic pipeline using our proprietary platforms.

“Since our inception, Sanofi has been highly supportive of our progress and we are very pleased to reshape our strategic collaboration to focus on novel therapeutics in areas of great unmet need.”

Lilian Anekwe

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