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

comments closed

Related News

May 21, 2022

As monkeypox cases emerge in US and Europe, Bavarian Nordic inks vaccine order

Life sciences

A monkeypox outbreak is emerging in the U.S. and Europe, and at least one country is amping up countermeasure preparedness. Bavarian Nordic has secured a contract with an unnamed European country to supply its smallpox vaccine, called Imvanex in Europe, in response to the emergence of monkeypox cases, the Danish company said Thursday.

May 21, 2022

Moderna chairman Afeyan defends hiring practices after CFO debacle: report

Life sciences

Moderna’s recent chief financial officer debacle—in which Jorge Gomez departed on his second day on the job—raised questions about the company’s hiring process given its rush to global biopharma prominence. The most obvious one: How was it possible for Gomez to be hired when he was under investigation by his previous employer, Dentsply Sirona of Charlotte, N.C.

May 21, 2022

Merck to pay up to $1.4B in cancer deal with Kelun, but details are scarce

Life sciences

Merck & Co. is plucking a cancer project from the branch of Chinese-based Kelun Pharmaceutical for up to $1.4 billion, but details from the New Jersey-based Big Pharma have been hard to come by. The deal, first disclosed Monday on the Shenzhen stock exchange, has Merck handing over $47 million in upfront cash in exchange for ex-China rights to a “macromolecular tumor project.”