Sector News

Sanofi starts on viral vector facility as its R&D focus shifts to gene therapies

October 23, 2019
Life sciences

Sanofi is playing catch-up in gene therapy, but new CEO Paul Hudson is taking quick steps to close the gap. A reorganization of the R&D unit is intended to pivot the drugmaker toward immuno-oncology drugs and gene therapies.

And to hasten the transition, the company is retrofitting a vaccine plant in France into a gene therapy manufacturing operation.

A spokesman Monday confirmed Sanofi is preparing teams at its Lyon-Gerland site to work on vector-based gene therapies. Hudson spoke about the project in an interview with BioPharma Dive. The drugmaker expects the facility to be operational a year from now.

Sanofi has invested about €25 million in the Lyon-Gerland site over the last five years. In 2013, the drugmaker struck a deal with France’s Transgene to share the cost of a €10 million facility there to manufacture Transgene’s immuno-oncology therapies.

The Lyon vaccine facility is being retrofitted even as Sanofi this summer reworked its gene therapy partnership with Voyager Therapeutics. Sanofi dumped two programs it has started with Voyager, and now the two will develop adeno-associated virus capsids —the protein shells of the virus—for the delivery of gene therapies. Sanofi gets the exclusive option to use these capsids to deliver treatments for up to two non-CNS diseases.

The project also comes as Sanofi has been upgrading other parts of its manufacturing network for the future. Last week, it opened a new biologics plant in Massachusetts that it considers its prototype plant of the future. In the digitally enabled manufacturing facility, all manufacturing stages are controlled through analytical processes that are forecast to avoid variations.

Plant operators also have access to data analytics or augmented reality solutions that can help them make real-time decisions and adjustments. He said the remade plant is 80 times more productive while also reducing energy use and emissions by 80%.

As for gene therapy production, Sanofi is following other companies such bluebird bio and Gilead’s Kite Pharma in building viral vector manufacturing facilities to serve their gene therapy or CAR-T development programs, which are much further along than Sanofi’s.

By Eric Palmer

Source: Fierce Pharma

Related News

January 24, 2020

AstraZeneca aims to go carbon free by 2025—and it’ll spend $1B to do it

Life sciences

LinkedIn Twitter FacebookFor a pharma company selling respiratory drugs, climate change would probably mean more patients and increased sales. But AstraZeneca has committed to contributing its fair share to stop […]

January 24, 2020

Big pharma is the ‘winner’ from US-China deal, say lawyers

Life sciences

LinkedIn Twitter FacebookPhase one of the US-China trade deal agreed last week is a major win for pharmaceutical companies, lawyers have told LSIPR. “Pharmaceutical companies are the big winners from […]

January 23, 2020

Amgen wades deeper into Asia with full control of an Astellas Japanese JV

Life sciences

LinkedIn Twitter FacebookSeven years into a strategic alliance in Japan with Astellas Pharma, Amgen is taking on full control of the local business as the Big Biotech bets more on […]