French multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi investing €80m in equity in BioNTech, which is claimed to be the Europe’s largest privately-held biopharmaceutical firm focused on the development of individualized therapies for cancer and the prevention of infectious diseases.
BioNTech has expanded its research collaboration with Sanofi formed in late 2015 to advance the development of mRNA-based cancer immunotherapies.
Simultaneously, BioNTech has signed an agreement with Sanofi to co-develop the first cancer immunotherapy candidate from the collaboration, which is entering clinical testing in multiple solid tumors.
BioNTech co-founder and CEO Dr Ugur Sahin said: “The extension of the research collaboration and equity investment demonstrates a deepening of our partnership with Sanofi as we seek to rapidly drive novel, disruptive programs through clinical testing to commercialization together.”
In early 2018, BioNTech taken decision to exercise one of its option rights under the 2015 research collaboration to co-develop and co-commercialize cancer immunotherapy candidate product candidate with Sanofi.
The investigational therapy is composed of an mRNA mixture encoding immunomodulatory cytokines, which are infused directly into the tumor.
Local administration of immunotherapies to the tumor microenvironment will help stimulate innate and adaptive immune responses against tumors and avoid toxicities linked to systemic administration of immuno-modulatory therapeutics.
Sanofi research global head and senior vice president Yong-Jun Liu said: “We are pleased to be initiating clinical testing of our first mRNA-based cancer immunotherapy in collaboration with our partners at BioNTech.
“Our joint team, consisting of scientists and clinicians from both Sanofi and BioNTech, has worked tirelessly to expedite development of this new and innovative clinical candidate because targeted mRNA therapies may have the potential to be effective for cancer patients.”
In August 2015, BioNTech signed a collaboration and license agreement with Sanofi to discover and develop up to five cancer immunotherapies.
Under the deal, BioNTech is eligible to secure $60m in upfront and near-term milestone payments. The firm is also eligible to receive more than $300m in development, regulatory and commercial milestones and other payments per product.
The company holds option to co-develop and co-commercialize two of the five mRNA therapeutics products with Sanofi in the European Union and the US.