Sanofi is looking to bolster its recombinant-based influenza vaccine portfolio through the acquisition of Protein Sciences for $650 million upfront and potentially up to another $100 million in milestones. The transaction, which has been approved by the Protein Sciences board and the majority of its shareholders, is expected to close during Q3 2017, subject to regulatory clearance.

Protein Sciences notes that its Flublok® Quadrivalent influenza vaccine is the only recombinant protein-based flu vaccine approved by the FDA. The vaccine, which is manufactured using a 100% egg-free cell culture system, was cleared by the U.S. regulator for use in adults, in October last year.  “The acquisition of Protein Sciences will allow us to broaden our flu portfolio with the addition of a non-egg-based vaccine,” said David Loew, Sanofi evp  and head of Sanofi Pasteur, Sanofi’s vaccines division.

Headquartered in Meridian, CT, Protein Sciences is exploiting its insect cell-based baculovirus expression vector system (BEVS) protein expression technology to develop recombinant protein vaccines and to offer research antigen and recombinant protein vaccine and therapeutics development and manufacturing services. The BEVS platform is based on an engineered baculovirus and proprietary expresSF+® Spodoptera frugiperda insect cell line. The firm claims the highly scalable system produces high levels of pure, correctly folded protein more quickly and cost-effectively than other production systems.

Protein Sciences is developing a number of recombinant protein vaccine candidates, including a pandemic influenza vaccine Panblok® and FluNhance™, a recombinant neuraminidase that is in development for boosting the efficacy of influenza vaccines. A recombinant protein-based Zika virus vaccine is also in development. Positive data from preclinical tests with the Zika virus vaccine were reported in January.

In March, Protein Sciences reported that it has been charged with developing two new pandemic vaccine candidates against influenza N7N9 strains, under an existing, potentially $610 million Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) pandemic influenza contract, awarded in September.

The WHO and the FDA are separately encouraging the use of non-egg-based influenza vaccine manufacturing methods, including cell-based approaches. Last month, Seqirus, which claims to be the second largest global influenza vaccine manufacturer behind Sanofi Pasteur, reported successfully scaling up its cell-based system for manufacturing influenza vaccines, to enable commercial production at its Holly Springs facility in North Carolina.  

Headquartered in Lyon, France, Sanofi Pasteur is the world’s largest vaccine-dedicated company, with a vaccine portfolio spanning bacterial and viral diseases. The firm distributes more than 1 billion doses of its vaccine every year, including 200 million doses of seasonal influenza vaccine in 2016. Sanofi Pasteur reported revenues of €4.58 billion (approximately $5.2 billion) in 2016. 

Previous articleHIV’s Molecular Mimicry Exploits Immune Tolerance to Halt Antibody Attack
Next articleDaiichi Sankyo, Max Planck Innovation, Lead Discovery Center Launch Cancer Collaboration