Sanofi plans to invest in ‘center of excellence’ that focuses on mRNA vaccines

FRANCE- The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi has announced its plan to invest US$475.4m into a new facility focused on solely on the development and delivery of next-generation mRNA-based vaccines.

The new mRNA ‘center of excellence’ is expected to employ approximately 400 new staff members in a bid to integrate end-to-end mRNA vaccine capabilities.

This investment will see Sanofi bringing together dedicated research & development, digital and chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) teams, working across sites based in the US and France.

“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 Centre of Excellence aims to lead the field in this next chapter of vaccine innovation,” he added.

In particular, Sanofi said that the facility will help to accelerate the mRNA vaccines portfolio developed as part of its collaboration with Translate Bio, which was initially announced in 2018.

Sanofi already paid an upfront of US$300m to expand its partnership with Translate Bio to develop mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases, including a COVID-19 vaccine.

Under the expanded deal, Translate Bio received 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% 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.

According to the previous financial report of 2020, Sanofi vaccine sales went down by 6.8% in the second quarter of 2020 this went on to the first quarter of 2021 with travel vaccine sales dipping due to travel confinement across the globe.

Though other vaccines are still in use, the popularity of mRNA vaccines owing to its high efficacy rating prompted Sanofi adjust its business model by trying the latest mRNA technology which is set to continue gaining momentum globally.

They currently already have an ongoing clinical trial for a vaccine against influenza which is currently in its first phase.

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