FRANCE – Sanofi has announced the acquisition of Origimm Biotechnology, an Austrian privately held biotechnology company specializing in the discovery of virulent skin microbiome components and antigens from bacteria causing skin disease, such as acne.

The transaction adds a potential first-in-class vaccine candidate in acne vulgaris, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide, to Sanofi’s pipeline. The deal is expected to close in early December 2021.

In addition to acquiring Origimm, the French conglomerate will use its mRNA vaccine platform, acquired through the recent US$3.2 billion acquisition of Translate Bio, to discover and develop other acne vaccines, aided by the Vienna-based firm’s expertise in the field.

Translate Bio’s acquisition has enabled Sanofi to acquire significant know-how in the field of mRNA technology, which the company plans to use in the majority of its vaccine candidates.

Origrimm, based in Vienna, is a privately held company that is developing a vaccine-based immunotherapy for acne.

The biotech’s stated goal was to go after the root cause of those pesky skin problems while avoiding side effects by focusing on bacteria that colonize the skin, such as the Cutibacterium acnes bacterium, which is often to blame for moderate to severe acne.

ORI-001 has the potential to be the first-in-class vaccine candidate for acne vulgaris, a common chronic skin disease for which there is currently no effective treatment.

The candidate is based on recombinant proteins and will begin preliminary clinical trials in the third quarter of 2021. Sanofi hopes to expand its mRNA vaccine research platform with the acquisition.

In the meantime, Sanofi is working on additional antigen versions and plans to use its next-generation mRNA platform in a large Phase I/II trial that will begin in 2023.

Selak, who is now part of Sanofi’s vaccines group, stated that her team hopes to create a “paradigm shift” in the treatment of skin disorders as well as other microbiome-related diseases and infections.

The acquisition of Origimm further broadens our vaccines R&D pipeline with a first vaccine candidate against acne, a high medical need for millions of teenagers and adults,” says Thomas Triomphe, Executive Vice President, Global Head of Sanofi Pasteur.

Sanofi abandoned plans for its own mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine in September, citing BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna’s dominance in using the technology to combat the pandemic.

Instead, the group redirected its efforts to concentrate to work with British partner GlaxoSmithKline to bring another COVID-19 vaccine candidate to market using the more traditional protein-based approach, where mass trials are currently underway.

In most recent development, Sanofi entered into partnership with Baidu to use the latter’s algorithm in mRNA vaccine and therapy development.

Sanofi will use the LinearDesign platform to contribute to the optimization of mRNA sequences for human therapeutic and preventive uses under the terms of the agreement.

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