Sanofi Cements mRNA Position with $3.2 Billion Translate Bio Deal

Chesnot/Getty Images

Chesnot/Getty Images

With its acquisition, Sanofi aims to establish a firm toehold in the mRNA space by integrating dedicated research and development capabilities, chemistry, manufacturing and controls.

Chesnot/Getty Images

Shares of Translate Bio are up nearly 30% in premarket trading after Sanofi made a $3.2 billion bid to acquire the company to gain its mRNA technology and bolster the development of vaccines and therapeutics.

For French pharma giant Sanofi, the acquisition of Translate Bio comes a little more than a month after the company announced the establishment of its mRNA Center of Excellence and four months after it acquired Tidal Therapeutics, which is developing nanoparticles that can deliver messenger RNA (mRNA) capable of reprogramming immune cells.

With its new center and the acquisition of both companies, Sanofi aims to establish a firm toehold in the mRNA space through the integration of dedicated research and development capabilities, as well as chemistry, manufacturing and controls. Sanofi’s mRNA research will be spread across multiple facilities, including its Cambridge, Mass. site and a facility in Lyon, France.

Sanofi and Translate Bio are no strangers to each other. In 2018, the two companies forged a collaboration and licensing agreement to develop mRNA vaccines.

That bond was strengthened last year to address current and future infectious diseases. The companies have been collaborating on vaccines for both the COVID-19 pandemic and an influenza vaccine.

When the two companies expanded their partnership last year, Translate Bio had boosted its manufacturing capabilities through a partnership with a contract manufacturing partner. The two companies anticipate data from a Phase I/II study of the COVID vaccine candidate in the third quarter of this year, and data from the flu vaccine, which is in Phase I studies, is expected by the end of 2021.

The acquisition of Translate Bio will provide Sanofi with new capabilities to develop vaccines and therapeutics. Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Paul Hudson stated that the addition of Translate Bio brings the company an established mRNA technology platform and seasoned employees who have the skills to navigate the space.

“A fully owned platform allows us to develop additional opportunities in the fast-evolving mRNA space. We will also be able to accelerate our existing partnered programs already under development. Our goal is to unlock the potential of mRNA in other strategic areas such as immunology, oncology, and rare diseases in addition to vaccines,” Hudson said in a statement.

In addition to the vaccines, Translate Bio has an early-stage pipeline in cystic fibrosis and other rare pulmonary diseases. Translate Bio is also delving into potential therapeutics for conditions that affect the liver.

“Sanofi and Translate Bio have a shared commitment to innovation in the mRNA space. With Sanofi’s long-standing expertise in developing and commercializing vaccines and other innovative medicines on a global scale, Translate Bio’s mRNA technology is now even better positioned to reach more people, faster,” Ronald Renaud, Translate Bio CEO said in a statement.