Sanofi, following Denali, pens gene therapy pact with Sirion Biotech

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(Sanofi)

French Big Pharma Sanofi is teaming up with Germany’s Sirion Biotech for its viral-vector-based gene delivery tech.

The pair will work together on developing improved tissue-selective adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors to tee up better gene therapy treatments. Targets have not yet been specifically mentioned, simply for “disorders affecting major human organs.” Financials of the deal were not made public.

This comes two years after Sirion penned a similar pact with Denali Therapeutics, with other partners including Acucela and Orchard Therapeutics.

Sanofi will work with Sirion and the German company’s partner at Heidelberg University Hospital, Dirk Grimm, to develop new and modified AAV capsids. The overall goal is to make safer, better gene therapies.

“This partnership adds to our expanding toolbox of technologies in the important, emerging area of gene therapeutics,” said Christian Mueller, Ph.D., global head of genomic medicine at Sanofi.

“Leveraging our expertise in virus-based vaccine and viral vector manufacturing together with Prof. Grimm's cutting-edge AAV capsid evolution technology and SIRION's expertise and capabilities in AAV vector manufacturing will allow us to better address unmet medical needs and open new frontiers for drug discovery in genomic medicine.”

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This also comes a few years after Sanofi boosted its efforts in gene therapy, aiming to use its expertise in vaccines to catch up in a competitive field, which included retrofitting one of its vaccine facilities near Lyon, France, to produce GMP-grade AAVs.

Last year it did, however, toss back a series of unwanted gene therapy assets to Oxford Biomedica.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Sanofi,” added Christian Thirion, Ph.D., CEO and cofounder of Sirion. “Sanofi is an ideal partner with decades-long experience in treating a multitude of disorders and exploring viral vectors as a therapeutic modality. AAV vectors with improved efficacy can enable quickly entering into clinical trials with efficient, safe low doses and scalable therapeutic candidates and can expand the impact of gene therapies.”