Sanofi collaborates with Scribe to develop cell therapy for cancer

FRANCE – Sanofi has collaborated with the Californian biotechnology company Scribe Therapeutics to develop new cancer cell therapies.

Under the terms of the deal, Sanofi picks up non-exclusive rights to Scribe’s CRISPR platform of wholly owned enzymes.

Sanofi will also pay Scribe US$25 million upfront to gain access to Scribe’s CRISPR-based gene editing technology, which will be used to develop cancer treatments based on modified natural killer (NK) cells.

NK cells, a type of immune defender, have piqued the interest of cancer drugmakers looking for alternatives to T cells used in CAR-T treatments for leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.

The X-editing (XE) technology developed by the company is described as an engineered molecule built on a novel CRISPR foundation to generate greater activity, specificity, and deliverability.

Scribe’s research interests span neurological, ophthalmological, multisystem, muscle, and metabolic diseases, hematopoietic disorders, and cell therapy.

In May, Scribe Therapeutics announced that its collaboration with Biogen would be expanded to include a second unnamed target.

Under the Biogen deal, an agreement was made in 2020 to develop and commercialize CRISPR-based therapies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Scribe could pick up as much as US$400 million in development and commercial milestone payments.

Scribe completed a US$100 million Series B financing in March 2021, five months after it raised a US$20 million Series A round.

CasX-Editors (XE) are Scribe’s custom engineering genome editing and delivery tools. On its part, Sanofi has an oncology pipeline of NK cell therapeutics and will use Scribe’s technology to expand that portfolio

Sanofi’s pipeline includes SAR445419 (formerly KDS1001), an NK cell therapy candidate being developed for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that is under study in a Phase I trial.

Sanofi added the candidate to its pipeline when it acquired Kiadis Pharma for €308 million (US$295 million) in 2020.

In August, Sanofi signed a strategic and exclusive research collaboration with Atomwise to use the latter’s AtomNet platform for discovering and researching up to five drug targets computationally.

In other related developments, Vertex and its partner CRISPR Therapeutics recently announced plans to submit their CRISPR/Cas9-edited cell therapy exagamglogene autotemcel (exa-cel) to the FDA for a rolling review in sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia beginning in November, Fiercepharma highlights.

Exa-cel, if approved, could be the first CRISPR-based therapy available.

Meanwhile, Intellia Therapeutics recently reported more positive early data for its in vivo gene editing candidates for transthyretin amyloidosis (ATTR) and hereditary angioedema, after being the first to show that systemic infusion of CRISPR inside the human body could treat disease.

For Intellia’s candidates, the company is using a lipid nanoparticle to deliver CRISPR to cripple genes in the liver.

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