Sanofi today disclosed a series of cancer and antibiotic collaborations with a pair of biotechs valued at more than a combined $1.1 billion.
Sanofi said it will enter into an extended and revised research collaboration and exclusive license with Warp Drive Bio focused on developing drugs targeting human oncogenes, including RAS—as well as new antibiotics targeting Gram-negative bacteria.
The alliance could generate more than $750 million for Warp Drive, with which Sanofi has been a major investor and strategic partner since the biotech was launched in 2012 with $125 million in initial funding.
The collaboration will use Warp Drive’s SMART™ (Small Molecule Assisted Receptor Targeting) and Genome Mining platforms. Warp Drive Bio will retain rights to deploy its platforms to pursue discovery and development against all other targets, both alone and in collaboration with other companies.
Sanofi said the collaboration is an outgrowth of its Sunrise initiative, a strategic partnership model that seeks to invest in early-stage opportunities that align with the pharma giant’s development and commercialization abilities.
Warp Drive will lead the research collaboration for five years, with Sanofi receiving worldwide exclusive licenses to develop and commercialize the candidates discovered during the research term.
In return, Sanofi agreed to shell out in excess of $750 million across four successful collaboration programs—including an equity investment by Sanofi; research, clinical, and regulatory milestones; and research and development services.
Three of the collaboration programs will target different mutants and states of the RAS oncogenic protein. Warp Drive will have the option to lead development of the therapeutic candidates from post IND filing up to Phase II clinical studies, with Sanofi leading development through the filing of NDAs.
Sanofi will lead global commercial activities on product(s) resulting from the collaboration, though Warp Drive has the option to co-commercialize oncology therapeutics in the U.S. Outside the U.S., Sanofi will manage all commercial activities while Warp Drive will receive commercial milestones and tiered royalties on product sales.
The fourth collaboration will focus on the discovery and development of novel Gram-negative therapeutics. Sanofi will lead all development activities, and oversee global commercialization of the antibiotic products, agreeing in return to pay Warp Drive research, clinical, and regulatory milestones, plus tiered royalties and commercial milestones based on global sales.
Separately, Sanofi agreed to apply Innate Pharma's technology toward development of up to two bispecific natural killer (NK) cell engagers, using technology from Innate Pharma and Sanofi's proprietary bispecific antibody format as well as tumor targets.
Sanofi agreed to oversee development, manufacturing, and commercialization of products resulting from the research collaboration. In return, Sanofi agreed to pay Innate Pharma up to €400 million ($435 million) in development and commercial milestone payments as well as royalties on net sales.
The companies will work to develop new bispecific antibody formats engaging cells to kill tumor cells through NKp46, an activating receptor expressed on all natural killer cells.
NKp46-bispecific NK cell engagers are designed to bind with one arm to an antigen at the surface of tumor cells, and with another arm to the NKp46 receptor on NK cells. The binding is intended to lead to activation and specific tumor-killing by NK cells.
“This new technology platform is complementary to our innovative portfolio of first-in-class antibodies targeting immune checkpoints. We intend to use it for our internal portfolio expansion, as well as through non-exclusive agreements with other companies, such as in this agreement with Sanofi,” Innate Pharma CSO Nicolai Wagtmann said in a statement.
In addition to Sanofi, Innate Pharma has collaborations with biopharma giants that include Bristol-Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca, and Novo Nordisk.