Sanofi announces investing 2 billion euros within five years in messenger RNA

French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi announced on Tuesday that it would invest 2 billion euros within five years in research and development
on messenger RNA, to take the turn of this innovative technology at the origin of the first vaccines against
the Covid-19.

The laboratory announced Tuesday that it would devote 400 million euros per year by 2025 in research on new messenger RNA vaccines, investments which should continue beyond this period. Sanofi, one of the world leaders in the vaccine sector, will create a research center dedicated to “mRNA” vaccines, located in Cambridge, in the United States, and in Marcy-L’Étoile, near Lyon, on two sites where the group is already present, he said in a statement Tuesday.

“We are not going to replace our current vaccines”

This center will bring together 400 employees with teams dedicated to research and development, digital technology, chemicals and manufacturing, with job creation as a result. Objective stated: to develop a new generation of vaccines, with at least six candidate vaccines in clinical trials by 2025. To achieve this, Sanofi will intensify its partnership with Translate Bio, an American biotech specializing in messenger RNA, with whom he has been collaborating since 2018.

“These are routine vaccines against infectious diseases. We are not going to replace our current vaccines, but to expand our portfolio, ”underlined Thomas Triomphe, executive vice-president and global manager of Sanofi Pasteur, the group’s branch dedicated to vaccines. The laboratory does not specify which infectious diseases will be targeted. “This new mechanism of action will complement our different approaches,” he emphasizes. Our ambition is to take messenger RNA to the next step: how to develop this technology by having thermostable vaccines (2 to 8 ° C) and improved safety to be able to use them routinely and not just pandemic “.

An influenza messenger RNA vaccine

Last year vaccines – pediatric, flu, etc. – generated almost six billion euros in sales for Sanofi, or some 17% of its turnover. However, despite its expertise, the laboratory has multiplied the delays in the face of Covid-19, drawing the ire of public opinion. Its recombinant vaccine– developed with the British GSK – should thus be marketed by the end of the year, one year after its competitors Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have developed a messenger RNA vaccine.

Its other vaccine against Covid, developed with Translate Bio and which uses messenger RNA technology, is at the start of human trials. Sanofi recently announced that it had launched the first clinical trials for an influenza vaccine project based on messenger RNA, ie “before similar announcements from other competitors,” argues Thomas Triomphe, however.

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