Sanofi doubles down on mRNA vaccines with $475m annual booster shot

‘The mRNA story is just beginning’ says Sanofi as it builds on its partnership with Translate Bio by launching dedicated vaccine R&D centers in Massachusetts and France.

The French pharma giant announced plans today to invest €400 million ($475 million) annually into what it describes as its ‘mRNA Center of Excellence’ to accelerate R&D of next-generation vaccines.

The ‘Center’ will in fact be spread across two of Sanofi’s locations, Cambridge (Boston) in Massachusetts and in Marcy L’Etoile (near Lyon), France, a spokeswoman from the firm told BioProcess Insider.

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The investment is the latest boost to Sanofi’s messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine arm.

In 2018, Sanofi teamed up with Translate Bio to develop vaccines for up to five infectious disease pathogens, and last year the firms expanded the partnership with Sanofi paying Translate an additional $425 million.

“We are happy and committed to our partnership with Translate Bio,” the spokeswoman said. “What we are doing now is accelerating our efforts with this investment and with our scale and capabilities of a global pharmaceutical company.”

Approximately 400 employees will be brought together under the Center of Excellence banner, giving the firm end-to-end mRNA vaccine capabilities through dedicated R&D, digital, and chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) teams.

“The center creation reflects our team’s ability and agility to adapt to major changes in the vaccine industry prompted by the pandemic, namely a new appreciation for vaccines’ contribution to public health and mRNA’s now demonstrated potential in vaccines.”

Sanofi and Translate’s mRNA vaccine development has so far produced a COVID-19 candidate in Phase I-II studies, while the collaboration also has a flu vaccine in Phase I trials.

“The mRNA story is just beginning.  The key will be moving pandemic mRNA technologies into routine use by improving their thermostability and relatively high reactogenicity, and this is an area where Sanofi has unique experience in vaccines to lead the field in the future.”

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