Sanofi tears up Sangamo cell therapy deal in pivot to off-the-shelf approaches

Sanofi tears up Sangamo cell therapy deal in pivot to off-the-shelf approaches

Sanofi is rethinking its approach to genomic medicines. Having worked with Sangamo Therapeutics on personalized cell therapies, Sanofi has decided to scrap the deal and shift its focus to allogeneic universal genomic medicine approaches.

The termination of the deal, which is set to take effect in June, will return full control of sickle cell disease candidate SAR445136 to Sangamo. Sanofi and Sangamo established SAR445136 as a contender in a space targeted by Vertex last month with the publication of data on four patients. But Sanofi is set to pull out before the phase 1/2 clinical trial doses its final patients in the third quarter of 2022.

In disclosing the news, Sangamo attributed the termination to “Sanofi’s change in strategic direction to focus on allogeneic universal genomic medicine approaches rather than autologous personalized cell therapies.”

Sanofi acquired an allogeneic cell therapy platform last year when it bought Kiadis for 308 million euros ($349 million). The deal gave Sanofi control of a natural killer cell platform capable of generating off-the-shelf treatments for cancers and infectious diseases.

Scrapping the Sangamo deal continues the offloading of programs Sanofi acquired in its takeover of the Biogen-spinout Bioverativ. Biogen teamed up with Sangamo in 2014 and spun the program out as part of the formation of Bioverativ. Sanofi entered the story by buying Bioverativ, only to out-license a pair of acquired sickle cell programs to Global Blood Therapeutics and then dump the Sangamo alliance.

Sangamo received a $20 million upfront payment from Biogen back in 2014 and pocketed a further $13.5 million in milestones over the following years. As Sanofi is walking away before SAR445136 gets beyond early-phase development, Sangamo’s milestone haul is set to fall a long way short of the $276.3 million maximum.

There is still time for Sangamo to make more money from SAR445136, though. With the December data drop suggesting the cell therapy prevents vaso-occlusive crises, Sangamo plans to investigate alternative options for advancing the candidate, including potentially seeking a new partner.

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