Sanofi and MD Anderson Enter 5-Year Immuno-Oncology Alliance

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Paris-based Sanofi and Houston-based The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center entered a five-year strategic partnership to develop immune therapies and targeted cancer treatments. It will leverage MD Anderson’s clinical trials infrastructure and Sanofi’s cancer pipeline.

This is yet another example of Sanofi’s increased investment in the cancer space. On July 8, Sanofi licensed a previously undisclosed K-NK0004 program from The Netherlands-based Kiadis Pharma in a deal just shy of $1 billion. The deal covered Kiadis’ proprietary CD38 knock out (CD38KO) K-NK therapeutics for combination with anti-CD38 monoclonal antibodies.

In early June, Sanofi (China) Investment Co. signed a collaboration deal with Alphamab Oncology, based in Suzhou, China, to advance clinical trials of Alphamab’s KN-26 with Sanofi’s Taxotere (docetaxel) in HER2+ breast cancer. Jiangsu Alphamab Biopharmaceuticals Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphamab Oncology, made the deal to advance clinical trials of the combination of KN026, an anti-HER2 bispecific antibody, and Sanofi’s Taxotere in HER2+ breast cancer.

“Our goal is to improve the outcome for patients with a range of difficult-to-treat cancers, which is best achieved through a deep understanding of how investigational new drugs work,” said Peter Adamson, Global Development Head, Oncology and Pediatric Innovation at Sanofi. “This alliance leverages MD Anderson’s agile approach to early phase clinical trials, their laboratory capabilities and broad scientific expertise.”

He added, “This will get us to go/no-go decisions much faster and help us identify potential new combinations and indications more accurately. That will save precious time and help us expand the spectrum of patients who could potentially benefit from our therapies.”

MD Anderson oversees one of the largest cancer clinical trial programs in the U.S., which includes platforms for tissue collection, molecular and immune profiling and data analysis. This allows for full coverage of clinical trials from the time cancer biopsies are made, through and after treatment.

“Not only do clinical trials help us to advance life-saving new treatments for our patients in need, they provide us with valuable information to understand which therapies may be more effective for which patients,” said Funda Meric-Bernstam, chair of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics at MD Anderson. “We are pleased to collaborate with Sanofi in this effort to accelerate the development of a pipeline of innovative cancer therapies.”

The pact will also offer support of clinical trials for extra indications and drug combinations that are already being conducted at MD Anderson. The two organizations will collaboration on trial design, as well as usage of biomarker tests and assays.

The partnership is expected to launch its first studies together this summer.

“MD Anderson’s expertise in deep immune phenotyping and molecular profiling will provide invaluable insights into our emerging immunotherapy assets, helping us refine our selection of indications and explore new avenues,” said Dmitri Wiederschain, Global Head of Immuno-Oncology Research at Sanofi. “The knowledge we gain in this collaboration will also deepen our shared understanding of cancers’ potential vulnerabilities.”

In early June, Sanofi’s chief executive officer, Paul Hudson, presented an overview of the company’s oncology strategy. Its strategy is focused on four core therapeutic areas in cancer, including multiple myeloma, skin, lung, and breast cancers. He indicated that its four anchor oncology therapies include Sarclisa, an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody and Libtayo (cemiplimab-nwlc), a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor, and pipeline programs that include an investigational anti-CEACAM 5 antibody drug conjugate and SERD (‘859), an oral selective estrogen receptor degrader.

“We are rapidly building momentum with the execution of our oncology strategy, with several developments on both our pipeline and marketed treatments,” said Hudson. “Additionally, we are assembling a world-class development and marketing team to support our growth in this core area. We believe our efforts and treatments have the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of people living with cancer.”

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