Sanofi Forges Second Partnership to Develop COVID-19 Vaccine


Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines business for French pharma giant Sanofi, and Massachusetts-based Translate Bio have partnered to develop a novel messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow across the globe and particularly in the United States, the two companies are building on a two-year-old partnership to develop mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases. In 2018, the two companies partnered with the goal of developing five mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases. Now, Sanofi and Translate Bio are turning their research toward COVID-19.

Translate Bio will use its mRNA platform to discover, design and manufacture SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates. Sanofi Pasteur, a vaccines expert, will aim its resources at advancing any candidate through developmental phases in hopes of bringing a desperately needed vaccine to the world. Depending on the final human dose, the mRNA platform of Translate Bio has excellent promise to meet the future demands for a pandemic response, Sanofi said.

For Sanofi, this marks the second collaboration in its efforts to develop a novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate. In February, Sanofi forged a collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to advance a novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The agreement with BARDA calls for Sanofi to initiate the development of a recombinant, protein-based vaccine candidate against COVID-19.

“We are committed to leveraging different ways to address the COVID-19 public health crisis by testing treatments, as well as two vaccines using different platforms. We believe the more approaches we explore, the better our likelihood of success in achieving this goal,” David Loew, global head of Vaccines at Sanofi said in a statement. “Having sufficient installed capacity will be key to satisfy the strong demand for vaccines we will probably see, and based on the experience we’ve had under the collaboration to date, we believe the Translate Bio mRNA platform could help us meet that need.”

According to the release, Translate Bio has already begun to produce multiple mRNA constructs and is expanding its manufacturing capabilities through a partnership with a contract manufacturing partner to accommodate at least two 250 gram batches per month, the company said. Translate Bio already has 100-gram single-batch production capabilities with its clinical-stage mRNA therapeutics platform.

Translate Bio Chief Executive Officer Ronald Renaud said his company and Sanofi Pasteur have already generated "encouraging preclinical data across multiple infectious disease targets” through the existing collaboration. That work will serve as a strong foundation in developing a vaccine candidate for COVID-19, Renaud said. mRNA vaccines work by delivering a nucleotide sequence encoding the antigen or antigens selected for their high potential in order to create an immune response in the body. It is thought that mRNA vaccines will provide high potency against diseases and will also have the capacity for rapid development due to low-cost manufacture and safe administration using non-viral delivery.

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