After 11 years, Sanofi kicks backs the rights to unwanted gene therapies to Oxford Biomedica

Oxford Biomedica is currently most well known for its work on COVID-19 vaccines and its tie-up with AstraZeneca, but a much older deal sits with French Big Pharma Sanofi.

All the way back in 2009, the year of a major viral pandemic , Oxford Biomedica penned a deal to license out its ophthalmology gene therapies, SAR422459 for Stargardt disease, a disease that causes progressive damage of the macula) and SAR421869, for Usher’s Syndrome type 1b where patients are born with severe to profound hearing loss, to Sanofi.

Last year, and a full decade later, Sanofi said it didn’t want to develop the meds anymore and was seeking a partner. Now, a year after this update, Sanofi has simply tossed them back to their creator.

“Following completion of a company-wide portfolio review, Sanofi intends to return to OXB [Oxford Biomedica] the rights to [its] ophthalmology gene therapy programs.”

In a brief update, the U.K.-based biotech added: “The timing of return of these programs and operational details are yet to be determined. However, when the rights to the two programs are returned, the group will undertake its own internal evaluation to determine the potential future for these programs and decide whether to commit further resources to them. “

If they do have a future, it will be in the hands of another, given that Oxford Biomedica doesn't run its own trials.

SAR422459 had been in a phase 1/2 proof-of-concept study, but was axed last week ahead of this announced, according to SAR421869, meanwhile, is in a clinical trial to evaluate the long-term safety and tolerability of SAR421869 in patients with Usher syndrome type 1B. It’s still classed as active but not recruiting in the small, open-label trial that’s been ongoing for six years.  

Oxford Biomedica’s collaboration and license agreement with Bioverativ (a Sanofi spinoff), for the development and manufacturing of lentiviral vectors to treat hemophilia, “remains unaffected by this announcement," the company added.