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Sanofi completes acquisition of immuno-oncology specialist Synthorx

Synthorx is now fully owned by the French drugmaker

Sanofi logo

Just over a month after new CEO Paul Hudson announced a plan to acquire Synthorx, Sanofi has completed the deal and now fully owns the immuno-oncology specialist. 

The French drugmaker shelled out $68 per share for Synthorx, for a total consideration of around $2.5bn, adding its ‘synthorin’ drugs for cancer as well as autoimmune indications to its pipeline. Synthorx’ myriad of candidates are lead by THOR-707 – a drug for solid tumours which is currently in a phase 1 trial.

Synthorins are proteins that are modified using a base pair technique to improve their characteristics. Synthorx’ lead candidate THOR-707 is a pegylated, modified version of interleukin-2 (IL-2) that is being tested against multiple tumour types, and will also be tested in combination with Sanofi’s own cancer drugs.

The modification of the drug extends the time it stays in the body compared to standard IL-2 or aldesleukin, but also blocks side effects such as vascular leak syndrome, which can be fatal and limit IL-2’s effectiveness.Paul Hudson

“The acquisition of Synthorx perfectly aligns with our R&D strategy, enhancing our position as an emerging leader in the area of oncology and immunology,” said Hudson (pictured left).

“We gain access to both great scientists and science with THOR-707, an engineered not-alpha IL-2 for the treatment of solid tumours which induces strong immunological responses in vivo, additional intriguing pre-clinical assets and a powerful platform that complements our ongoing oncology and immunology research.”

In the league of top pharma companies, Sanofi has been a bit late to the cancer immunotherapy category, but has been making a way into the market through its PD-1 inhibitor Libtayo (cemiplimab) – the sixth PD-1/PD-L1 to reach the market.

LibtayoAnalysts don’t see Libtayo making a big impression in the field, however – Evaluate Pharma forecasts the drug reaching revenues of just $600m by 2024, far behind Merck & Co’s class leader Keytruda (pembrolizumab), which is expected to hit $14.5bn that same year.

Hudson took the helm at Sanofi from Olivier Brandicourt last September, and the Synthorx acquisition was his first major play as CEO. His appointment was received well by analysts, who said the addition of a non-French speaking CEO would help to modernise Sanofi’s culture.

In addition to orchestrating his first acquisition, Hudson had reportedly been considering options to sell the company’s consumer health business, which could be worth up to $30bn. Sanofi’s consumer unit includes allergy treatment Allegra, Rolaids antacids, IcyHot for muscle pain and the Dulcolax laxative range.

Sanofi has had a particularly difficult few years, as it has only just begins to to come out the other side of major patent losses on key brands – particularly in its diabetes franchise.

In his first strategic update as CEO, Hudson revealed a re-prioritisation of the business, including the termination of its diabetes and cardiovascular research, as it ups its stakes in other therapy areas.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

24th January 2020

From: Sales

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