Sanofi takes over Warp Drive antibiotic program

Sanofi sign
Sanofi licensed the antibiotic as part of its $750 million pact with Warp Drive.

Sanofi has assumed responsibility for Warp Drive Bio's aminoglycoside antibiotic program. The handover happened after Warp Drive advanced the program against drug-resistant Gram-negative infections to a milestone defined in the $750 million pact the partners penned this year.

Warp Drive is handing off responsibility for the program early in the process, leaving Sanofi to run the pieces of preclinical research needed to get one of the aminoglycoside antibiotic candidates into human testing. The passing of the baton frees up Warp Drive's resources for other programs it is working on with Sanofi and independently of its Big Pharma partner.

“With the hand-off of this program to Sanofi, Warp Drive will now focus on our other programs, both anti-infectives and for other diseases, deploying our proprietary Genome Mining and SMART platforms,” Warp Drive CEO Laurence Reid said in a statement. “In particular, we continue to advance our RAS cancer program, which is also partnered with Sanofi.”

Warp Drive got its start in 2012 when Sanofi joined with Third Rock Ventures and Greylock Partners to commit $125 million to the startup. The investment gave Sanofi an option to buy Warp Drive if its microbial genome-focused drug discovery efforts hit certain goals. But the French Big Pharma opted to revise the deal in January, dropping its option while licensing four programs in exchange for up to $750 million comprised of an upfront fee, milestones and research funding.

The deal gave Sanofi responsibility for all development activities relating to the antibiotic program. With Warp Drive having wrapped up research activities, Sanofi is now taking the lead.

Warp Drive has the option to take its other Sanofi-partnered programs—three RAS-focused oncology efforts—to phase 2 before stepping aside to let its collaborator run late-stage studies.