Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines global business unit of Sanofi, and Translate Bio, a clinical-stage messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics company, have agreed to expand their existing 2018 collaboration and license agreement to develop mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases.
According to the company statement, the expansion of this agreement will further unite Translate Bio’s expertise and knowledge from more than ten years of mRNA research and development with Sanofi’s leadership in vaccine research and development. Under the expansion agreement, Translate Bio will receive a total upfront payment of US $425 million, consisting of a US $300 million cash payment and a private placement common stock investment of US $125 million at US $25.59 per share representing a 50% premium to the 20-day moving average share price before signing.
Translate Bio will also be eligible for potential future milestones and other payments up to US $1.9 billion, including US $450 million of milestones under the 2018 agreement. Of these potential milestones and other payments, approximately US $360 million are anticipated over the next several years, inclusive of Covid-19 vaccine development milestones. Translate Bio is also eligible to receive tiered royalty payments based on the worldwide sales of the developed vaccines. Sanofi Pasteur will pay for all costs during the collaboration term. Under this agreement, Sanofi Pasteur will receive exclusive worldwide rights for infectious disease vaccines.
“As all eyes are on prevention of infectious disease through vaccines, this is a pointed moment when we are called upon to seek innovative ways to protect public health,” said Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president, Sanofi Pasteur. “We are excited by the novel technology, and expertise Translate Bio brings. We believe that adding this mRNA platform to our vaccines development capabilities will help us advance prevention against current and future infectious diseases.”
“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 spoke to the potential of our mRNA platform. We are excited to work with Sanofi in this broadened capacity to ultimately deliver vaccines on a global scale, a need underscored by the current pandemic,” said Ronald Renaud, chief executive officer of Translate Bio. “Translate Bio will also be well-positioned financially to continue to build upon our internal capabilities with a focus on advancing innovations in platform discovery and on the development of ongoing and additional preclinical therapeutic programs as we aim to bring multiple programs towards clinical development.”
Under the collaboration, Translate Bio is using its mRNA platform to discover, design and manufacture vaccine candidates and Sanofi Pasteur is providing its deep vaccine expertise to advance vaccine candidates into and through further development. Translate Bio will transfer technology and processes to allow Sanofi Pasteur to develop and manufacture mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases.
According to the press release, the teams are currently evaluating multiple Covid-19 vaccine candidates in vivo for immunogenicity and neutralizing antibody activity to support lead candidate selection. The companies have the goal of initiating a first-in-human clinical trial in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The companies are also advancing an mRNA vaccine development candidate against influenza through preclinical studies with clinical trial initiation anticipated in mid-year 2021. Additional mRNA vaccine development programs under the collaboration include another viral pathogen and a bacterial pathogen.