Sanofi Pasteur has signed a fresh deal potentially worth up to $2.32bn with US-based Translate Bio to expand an existing partnership of developing vaccines for infectious diseases by using the latter's messenger RNA technology (mRNA technology).
The French vaccines company, which is part of Sanofi, signed a collaboration and license agreement deal worth up to $805m with Translate Bio in 2018 for developing mRNA vaccines for a maximum of five infectious disease pathogens.
The two companies will now consolidate on their ongoing collaboration to pursue novel mRNA vaccines with an aim to broadly address the present and future infectious diseases.
Under the collaboration, the US firm has been using its mRNA platform for discovery, design, and manufacturing of vaccine candidates. On the other hand, Sanofi Pasteur is offering its vaccine expertise to drive the vaccine candidates into and through further development.
Translate Bio will also be transferring technology and processes to enable Sanofi Pasteur for developing and manufacturing mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases.
Currently, the companies are assessing multiple vaccine candidates for Covid-19 in vivo for immunogenicity and neutralising antibody activity to support lead candidate selection. The partners aim to initiate a first-in-human clinical trial in the fourth quarter of this year.
Apart from Covid-19, the partners are also moving ahead with the development of an mRNA vaccine candidate against influenza through preclinical studies with clinical trial initiation expected in mid-year 2021.
Other mRNA vaccine development programmes under the partnership include another viral pathogen and a bacterial pathogen.
Sanofi Pasteur executive vice president Thomas Triomphe said: “As all eyes are on prevention of infectious disease through vaccines, this is a pointed moment in time where we are called upon to seek innovative ways to protect public health.
“We are excited by the novel technology and expertise Translate Bio brings, and we believe that adding this mRNA platform to our vaccines development capabilities will help us advance prevention against current and future infectious diseases.”
As per the terms of the new deal, Translate Bio will be paid $425m upfront, which comprises $300m cash payment and a common stock investment of $125m at $25.59 per share.
The mRNA therapeutics company will also be entitled to be paid up to $1.9bn in potential future milestones and other payments. Included in these are $450m of milestones payments under the 2018 agreement.
Translate Bio CEO Ronald Renaud said: “The expansion of our collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur validates the progress we’ve made in the development of mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases since our work together began in 2018 and also speaks to the potential of our mRNA platform.
“We are excited to work with Sanofi in this broadened capacity with the goal of ultimately delivering vaccines on a global scale, a need underscored by the current pandemic.”
The transactions, which include the equity sale, are subject to customary closing conditions.