Biontech’s Cooperation With Sanofi On Course


The cooperation between Mainz-based Biontech AG and the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, which began three years ago, is obviously going well: Sanofi is investing EUR 80 million in Biontech and the clinical phase for the partners’ first cancer immunotherapy preparation is beginning.


At the end of 2015, Biontech and Sanofi presented their strategic research agreement. Together, the two companies wanted to develop up to five cancer immunotherapies. Sanofi shelled out a total of EUR 54.4 million in signing fees (including early milestone payments). However, the potential value of the partnership is in the billions: EUR 272 million in further milestone bonuses and further product-related payments were agreed for each candidate molecule. In addition, there may be a double-digit percentage of sales. In addition, Biontech had secured the option to jointly develop two of the five mRNA therapy products with Sanofi and to market them in the EU and the USA. Ugur Sahin (photo), the CEO of Biontech, described the cooperation with Sanofi as “groundbreaking”.


It is still unclear to what extent the expansion of the cooperation announced at the beginning of the year will modify the previously agreed cash flows and tasks. Biontech has received a corresponding request from |


After Eli Lilly and Pfizer (both USA), Sanofi with its EUR 80 million stake is now Biontech’s third strategic investor. The Series A round a year ago went down in the history books of German biotechnology. At the end of 2018, CEO Sean Marett explained the agreement with Pfizer to develop mRNA-based vaccines for influenza prevention in an interview with |tranSkript.


Apart from the financing, the companies sent the first cancer immunotherapy candidate from the cooperation to the clinic. This has reached the clinical development stage and is to be tested on various solid tumors. Of the five projects agreed, there were two for which Biontech had an option to jointly develop and commercialize with Sanofi as part of the research collaboration. The current product candidate is one of the two. Biontech exercised the corresponding option right at the beginning of the year.


The new therapeutic approach consists of several mRNAs that code for immunomodulatory cytokines injected directly into the tumor. Local delivery of immunotherapies to the tumor microenvironment can stimulate innate and adaptive antitumor immune responses. At the same time, toxicity associated with the systemic administration of immunomodulatory therapeutics may be avoided.


“We are pleased that we have made it from concept to clinical stage with this program in significantly less than three years,” said Biontech boss Sahin.

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