Sanofi Picks Up Kiadis and Its Immuno-Oncology Assets for $359 Million

 John Reed_Sanofi

John Reed, Global Head of Research & Development at Sanofi, pictured above. Photo courtesy of Sanofi.

Paris-based Sanofi and Amsterdam-based Kiadis Pharma inked a deal for Sanofi to acquire the entire share capital of Kiadis. Under the deal, Sanofi will buy Kiadis shares at €5.45 per share, an aggregate adjusted equity value of €308 million, or about $359 million.

Kiadis Pharma focuses on cell-based immunotherapy for cancer and as novel adjunctive treatments for patients receiving hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT). It has three compounds in the clinic: K-NK002 in Phase II for HSCT in blood cancer; K-NK003 for relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML); K-NK-ID101 for COVID-19. Additional compounds are in preclinical development for multiple myeloma and other cancers, as well as for infections.

On September 30, Kiadis announced its six-month financials as well as its pipeline development update. This included the investigational new drug (IND) being approved for K-NK002 to begin Phase II development and one for K-NK003 to begin Phase I. Its K-NK004 in preclinical development was partnered with Sanofi for multiple myeloma, with a €17.5 million upfront payment and potential deal value of more than €875 million plus royalties.

The company had also initiated a new infectious disease program for K-NK-ID1-1 in COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. It is collaborating with five Dutch institutions to evaluate the anti-viral mechanisms of the K-NK cell therapy platform against COVID-19 as well as at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the U.S. It has also received a $9.5 million funding commitment from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD0 through the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI).

“We believe the Kiadis ‘off-the-shelf’ K-NK cell technology platform will have broad application against liquid and solid tumors, and create synergies with Sanofi’s emerging immuno-oncology pipeline, providing opportunities for us to pursue potential best-in-disease approaches,” said John Reed, Global Head of Research & Development at Sanofi.

The Kiadis technology platform is based on allogeneic, or “off-the-shelf” natural killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell and part of the innate immune system. NK cells play a major role in the host-rejection of tumors and virally infected cells. As a result, the Kiadis technology has a broad application across various cancers and for infectious diseases. The platform modifies NK cells so they don’t express CD 38. By dosing K-NK004 in combination with Sanofi’s Sarclisa, they believe it can prevent the depletion of NK cells that limits the effectiveness of antibodies against CD38. CD38 is a molecule found on the surface of immune cells that functions in cell adhesion, signal transduction and calcium signaling. It is primarily found on the cell surface of white blood cells in the bone marrow that cause multiple myeloma.

Sanofi plans to continue developing Kiadis’ assets alone and in combination with the French company’s existing platforms.

“Kiadis’ vision is to bring novel cell-based medicines to people with life-threatening diseases, and this transaction will help achieve that vision,” said Arthur Lahr, chief executive officer of Kiadis. “After the discontinuation of our lead product candidate and subsequent reorganization in 2019, we restarted Kiadis in 2020 as an entirely new company focused solely on the proprietary and differentiated NK-cell platform that we obtained through the acquisition of Cytosen Therapeutics.”

What Lahr is referring to is in late 2019, when the company killed its Phase III program for ATIR101 after poor efficacy data. It then acquired CytoSen Therapeutics in an all-stock deal, for 1.5 million newly issued shares and options. The Sanofi acquisition turns a profit for Kiadis on that acquisition.

Lahr went on to say, “Sanofi’s offer is a clear testimony to the uniqueness of our NK-cell platform and the rapid success of Kiadis’ transformation. The Kiadis Boards unanimously believe that Sanofi has the resources and financial strength to accelerate development of our NK-cell products, to the benefit of patients.”

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