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Sanofi forms a new mRNA vaccine division to make the technology surpass Covid-19

Sanofi first got involved in messenger RNA research through a partnership when the technology had not yet been proven, and is now fully investing by creating a department dedicated to the development of new mRNA vaccines.

The Paris-based pharmaceutical giant announced on Tuesday the establishment of its mRNA Center of Excellence, It will receive about 400 million euros (4.77 million US dollars) in support each year. The center will have approximately 400 employees in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Lyon, France.

Sanofi is already one of the largest vaccine companies in the world. Its vaccine business unit had sales of more than 5.9 billion euros (approximately US$7 billion) last year. But these products are based on traditional vaccine technology and require a long process to generate antigens that promote immune responses. In mRNA vaccines, this antigen is a protein produced by the body’s own cells. The vaccine transmits genetic instructions to tell the cell what protein to make.

The new Sanofi mRNA vaccine division was established after Moderna and BioNTech successfully developed an mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine. But these vaccines still have challenges, including ultra-cold storage requirements and patient tolerance to headaches, chills, and other effects that occur within a day or two after vaccination. Sanofi believes that it can improve these aspects of mRNA vaccines and by doing so makes the technology applicable to more diseases.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, mRNA technology has shown the potential to provide new vaccines faster than ever before,” Sanofi Pasteur’s global research and development director Jean-François Tucson said in a preparation Said in the good statement. “However, key innovation areas such as thermal stability and tolerability improvements are critical to unlocking the use of mRNA in routine vaccination against a wider range of infectious diseases and all age groups. The Sanofi mRNA Vaccine Center of Excellence aims to Lead the field in the next chapter of vaccine innovation.”

Sanofi first got involved in mRNA vaccines three years ago, when it started a collaboration with Translate Bio in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The alliance covers the development of vaccines for five infectious diseases based on the Translate Bio mRNA platform. The deal includes options to expand to more pathogens. In March 2020, the partners announced that they would consolidate this partnership by collaborating to develop an mRNA vaccine for Covid-19.

More than a year ago, the partnership Officially expanded to include Covid-19 vaccine candidates And other targets, such as flu. Sanofi paid Translate Bio US$425 million in advance-US$300 million in cash and US$125 million in equity investment. According to the agreement, it may also be liable for milestone payments of up to $1.9 billion. This total includes the $450 milestone covered by the original transaction in 2018.

The Covid-19 vaccine candidate is currently in phase 1/2 testing.Last week, Sanofi and Translate Bio started a Phase One Research Test the mRNA vaccine for influenza. The study recruited as many as 280 healthy adults, and preliminary data is expected to be released by the end of this year.

Sanofi also expanded its mRNA bet to other applications of mRNA technology. The company is collaborating with BioNTech to develop SAR441000, a candidate for mRNA therapy designed to stimulate the immune response to tumors. The program is in the first phase of testing.

In April, the pharmaceutical giant Paid an undisclosed amount to acquire Tidal Therapeutics, A pre-clinical biotechnology company, is developing a method of using mRNA to design immune cells in patients as a way to produce new cancer cell therapies.

Photo: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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