Sanofi shutting down R&D site at UK biotech hub, displacing 90 workers

Sanofi will be closing the doors to a research facility in the biotech hub of Cambridge, U.K., a move that will impact around 90 people, a spokesperson for the French Pharma told Fierce Biotech.

“Upon careful review of our R&D global footprint, we are proposing to end research operations in Cambridge, U.K., a site which joined our company through acquisition in 2021,” the Sanofi spokesperson told Fierce in an emailed statement March 13.

The site previously belonged to antibody developer Kymab, a biotech that Sanofi acquired in 2021 for $1.1 billion upfront. The deal centered around an anti-OX40L monoclonal antibody designed to improve outcomes in patients with atopic dermatitis. That drug hit the main goals of a phase 2b trial last June, spurring talks of a phase 3 launch.  

Despite that clinical success, it hasn't convinced Sanofi to maintain a footprint in Cambridge, a hub of biotech activity in the U.K. that is also the location of AstraZeneca's headquarters.  

Around 90 people are employed at the Sanofi R&D site, all of whom have been informed of the closure, the spokesperson said.

The Paris-based pharma will try to find a place within Sanofi for as many of the staffers as possible, the spokesperson added.

The shuttering follows a strategy shift for Sanofi. The Big Pharma has decided to funnel cash into key programs rather than increase its operating profit margin, CEO Paul Hudson announced in October. In December, the company tipped three "pipeline-in-a-product” assets to generate 5 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in a year or more, one of several predictions intended to justify the decision to ditch its margin target.

In better news for Cambridge's pharma credentials, AstraZeneca revealed last week that it will invest 200 million pounds sterling ($256 million) to expand the company's presence near its global headquarters. The plan includes a facility that will house around 1,000 employees, the drugmaker said.