Sanofi invests in health tech firm Novadiscovery, boosting trial simulation platform and COVID-19 work

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(Sanofi)

Sanofi is funneling €2.5 million into French clinical trial simulation specialist Novadiscovery as it looks to beef up its COVID-19 trial response.

Novadiscovery uses its so-called JINKO platform that runs disease models on virtual patients to support decision-making and de-risk clinical development.

The Lyon, France-based firm has been working with regulatory agencies to have this technique, also known as “in silico data,” included in regulatory filings. Sanofi is now on board and will tap Nova to help create a COVID-19 disease model to support the fellow French native’s vaccine and therapeutic efforts against the pandemic.

The funds, meanwhile, will be used to advance Nova’s work on JINKO as well as helping its expansion into the U.S.

This comes after Sanofi and partner GSK saw weak data out of their collective COVID-19 vaccine effort late last year, forcing the companies to delay their vaccine development to the fourth quarter.

In initial data, the pair’s COVID-19 vaccine failed to trigger the desired immune response in people aged 50 years and older, forcing the partners to rethink the antigen formulation. Sanofi will hope the second time is the charm and will have the platform of Nova now to help.

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“This strategic investment reflects the strength of NOVA’s clinical trial simulation technology and the growing awareness of its potential to transform drug R&D by accelerating and de-risking clinical development,” said François-Henri Boissel, CEO at Nova.

“We look forward to working closely with Sanofi to further test and enhance JINKO’s power and expand our understanding of how to best serve our customers’ needs.”

For Nova, this adds to its growing pharma clientele; it penned a pact with Janssen France in December for its in silico platform. Janssen is working on a one- and two-shot COVID-19 vaccine, though the Nova pact did not specifically mention it was helping Janssen with this part of its R&D.

“At Sanofi, we are committed to identifying the very best in digital healthcare and technology to advance new and innovative ways to better serve patients,” added Olivier Bogillot, president of Sanofi France. “Nova’s decision-support technology for clinical trial development has the potential to remove delays in bringing much needed treatments to patients and we are delighted to collaborate with them as they progress their strategy.

“This agreement is also part of Sanofi's efforts on several parallel fronts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, it demonstrates our willingness to support innovative and promising French health technology companies that contribute to the national research effort to try to overcome SARS-CoV-2.”