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

October 24, 2020

Neutralising the gluten threat: are we on the cusp of a coeliac disease breakthrough?

Life sciences

Coeliac disease causes long-term damage to patients’ small intestine and puts them at risk of other medical conditions. Treatment options are urgently needed. Allie Nawrat explores the promise of larazotide, the drug in development currently leading the pack.

October 24, 2020

Bone Therapeutics showcases allogeneic cell therapy data

Life sciences

Bone Therapeutics has announced positive 24-month follow-up results from its phase IIa study of Allob, its allogeneic cell therapy, in patients undergoing lumbar spinal fusion procedures.

October 24, 2020

UCB acquires new campus to support UK operations

Life sciences

Belgian pharma company UCB has agreed to acquire a new campus to further support its operations in the UK.

Send this to a friend