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Sanofi invests 80 million euros in BioNTech

Since 2015, BioNTech AG and Sanofi have been partners in the development of cancer therapies. The cooperation is now being extended with an investment of 80 million euros.

Louis Reed

The two companies Sanofi and BioNTech have been linked by a strategic research agreement for more than three years. Together, the companies plan to develop up to five cancer immunotherapies. The French pharmaceutical group Sanofi had already provided 54.4 million euros in signing fees (including early milestone payments) for this purpose. However, the potential value of the partnership lies in the billions, as milestone bonuses and other product-related payments depend on each candidate molecule.

Independently of the new financing of over 80 million euros, the clinical phase of the partners' first joint cancer immunotherapy candidate has now begun. The drug will be tested on various solid tumor types in patients. BioNTech CEO Sahin expressed his satisfaction that "we have made it from concept to clinical stage with this program in significantly less than three years".

The new therapeutic approach consists of injecting several mRNAs coding for immunomodulatory cytokines directly into the tumor. Cytokines are regulating proteins that activate the immune defence. The local administration of immune therapies to the tumour microenvironment can stimulate innate and adaptive immune responses against tumors and prevent possible toxicity. The development and commercialization of the candidate is being driven by BioNTech together with Sanofi, thus exercising the option right existing within the framework of the research cooperation.

BioNTech, a former winner of the GO-Bio competition, has become one of the largest biotechnology companies in Germany. More and more large pharmaceutical companies are interested in cooperating with the Mainz-based biotech company. After Eli Lilly and Pfizer (both USA), Sanofi is now the third strategic investor in BioNTech.

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