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Sanofi to invest €400m annually in mRNA vaccines facility

French pharma company will build end-to-end R&D of ‘next-generation’ mRNA vaccines

With the rise of mRNA technology coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanofi is planning to invest €400m annually to accelerate its internal development of the ‘next generation’ of mRNA vaccines.

Sanofi announced on Tuesday that it will invest in a ‘centre of excellence’, which will deliver end-to-end research and development (R&D) of the next generation of mRNA-based vaccines.

As part of these plans, the French pharma company will bring together approximately 400 dedicated employees to integrate end-to-end dedicated R&D, digital and chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) teams.

The dedicated mRNA teams will be based in Cambridge, Massachusetts – a biotech hub in the US – and Marcy l’Etoile, Lyon in France.

Sanofi added that the dedicated centre will also enable the acceleration of the mRNA vaccines portfolio developed as part of its partnership with US biotech company Translate Bio.

Translate Bio and Sanofi signed an initial collaboration agreement in 2018, which was later expanded in 2020 to include the development of a mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine candidate from this expanded collaboration entered phase 1/2 testing earlier this year, after promising results in animal studies were reported last year.

The study is evaluating the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the candidate – named MRT5500 – and is expected to enrol 415 healthy adults aged 18 years and older.

Participants taking part in the phase 1/2 trial will receive either one dose of MRT5500 or two doses administered 21 days apart. Sanofi and Translate are investigating three different dose levels of the vaccine candidate – 15µg, 45µg or 135µg.

The companies are also undertaking preclinical studies to evaluate if MRT5500 and additional mRNA vaccine candidates can induce neutralising antibodies against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, mRNA technologies demonstrated potential to deliver new vaccines faster than ever before,” said Jean-Francois Toussaint, global head of research and development, Sanofi Pasteur.

“However, key areas of innovation such as thermostability and tolerability improvements will be critical to unlock the applications of mRNA in routine vaccination against a broader set of infectious diseases and across all ages. The Sanofi mRNA vaccines Center of Excellence aims to lead the field in this next chapter of vaccine innovation,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

29th June 2021

From: Research

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