Sanofi and Jennifer Doudna-Founded Scribe Ink $1B CRISPR Cell Therapy Deal

Sanofi_Chesnot/Getty Images

Chesnot/Getty Images

Sanofi has inked a licensing deal with Scribe Therapeutics, co-founded by CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna, to develop novel natural killer (NK) cell therapies for cancer using Scribe’s CRISPR genome editing technology.  

Under the terms of the deal, Sanofi picks up non-exclusive rights to Scribe’s CRISPR platform of wholly owned enzymes.

Sanofi is paying Scribe $25 million upfront, with a potential $1 billion in development and commercial milestones. The agreement also includes tiered royalties on net sales of any products resulting from the collaboration.

Benjamin Oakes, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Scribe, touted Sanofi's commitment to deep scientific rigor and clinical development experience, which he said "will enable the rapid advancement of novel ex vivo cell therapies for patients in need."

Jennifer Doudna, with Emmanuelle Charpentier, is credited with discovering CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing. Both won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the feat in 2020. 

Doudna has co-founded several companies, including Scribe, Intellia Therapeutics and Caribou Biosciences. Other Scribe co-founders are Benjamin Oakes, Brett Staahl and David Savage.

The company's X-editing (XE) technology is described as an engineered molecule built on a novel CRISPR foundation to generate greater activity, specificity and deliverability. Scribe’s focus is broad, including neurological, ophthalmological, multisystem, muscle and metabolic diseases, hematopoietic disorders and cell therapy.

In May, the company announced it was expanding its collaboration with Biogen to include a second unnamed target. The original deal was announced in 2020 to develop and commercialize CRISPR-based therapies focusing on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Scribe’s custom engineering genome editing and delivery tools are called CasX-Editors (XE). Sanofi has a pipeline of NK cell therapeutics in the oncology space and will leverage Scribe’s technology to expand that portfolio.

Frank Nestle, global head of research and CSO at Sanofi stated the collaboration complements the company's research efforts across the NK cell therapy spectrum. 

The collaboration "offers our scientists unique access to engineered CRISPR-based technologies as they strive to deliver off-the-shelf NK cell therapies and novel combination approaches that improve upon the first generation of cell therapies,” Nestle said in a statement Tuesday.  

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