Sanofi pays Scribe $25M to access CRISPR tools, writing new chapter in its NK cell therapy story

Sanofi has teamed up with Scribe Therapeutics to write the next chapter in its natural killer (NK) cell therapy story, paying $25 million upfront and committing to $1 billion in biobucks for access to a CRISPR platform.

The French Big Pharma added an NK cell platform to its portfolio of technologies last year when it closed its takeover of Kiadis. Having established a base camp in the sector, Sanofi has now turned to Scribe for additional technologies to support its plans to develop ex vivo NK cell therapies and expand its pipeline of oncology programs.

“This collaboration with Scribe complements our robust research efforts across the NK cell therapy spectrum and offers our scientists unique access to engineered CRISPR-based technologies as they strive to deliver off-the-shelf NK cell therapies and novel combination approaches that improve upon the first generation of cell therapies,” Frank Nestle, M.D., chief scientific officer at Sanofi, said in a statement. 

In return for the upfront fee, Sanofi has landed nonexclusive rights to Scribe’s CRISPR platform of wholly owned enzymes. Scribe has developed CasX-Editors, custom engineering genome editing and delivery tools based on the CasX enzyme, to improve activity, specificity and deliverability.

Leading drug developers see promise in the platform. Biogen paid $15 million upfront and committed up to $400 million on the back end to work with Scribe on a CRISPR-based amyotrophic lateral sclerosis treatment two years ago. In May, Biogen expanded the collaboration, adding a second target to the pact.

Scribe raised $100 million in a series B financing round last year to support its in-house programs. The West Coast biotech is applying the technology to the treatment of neurodegeneration and other diseases.