Based in Lexington, Massachusetts, Translate Bio (NASDAQ:TBIO) announced the expansion of its collaboration with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur to develop mRNA vaccines for a broad range of current and future infectious diseases. The companies have partnered to pursue the creation of novel messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines which provide acquired immunity by inducing the production of antibodies that bind to potential pathogens.
As part of the partnership Translate Bio will receive $425 million upfront in the form of $300 million in cash and a $125 million common stock investment. It may also receive as much as $1.9 million in additional milestone payments as well as royalties on the global sales of any vaccines developed by the companies.
In return, Sanofi will receive the exclusive rights to develop, manufacture, and commercialize vaccines for infectious diseases using Translate Bio’s mRNA technology.
Translate Bio CEO Ronald Renuad commented, “The expansion of our collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur validates the progress we’ve made in the development of mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases since our work together began in 2018 and also speaks to the potential of our mRNA platform. We are excited to work with Sanofi in this broadened capacity with the goal of ultimately delivering vaccines on a global scale, a need underscored by the current pandemic.”
Human trial for COVID-19 vaccine targeted for later this year
The companies are currently working on a vaccine candidate against influenza which has advanced through preclinical studies and is expected to begin clinical trials in the middle of 2021. They are also evaluating several COVID-19 vaccine candidates and are targeting the initiation of a human clinical trial in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The Translate Bio-Sanofi collaboration began in 2018 when Translate Bio entered into an exclusive license agreement with Sanofi to develop mRNA vaccines for as many as five infectious diseases. The agreement was later expanded in March 2020 to include the development of an mRNA vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. The collaboration has a research term that extends through at least 2022.
Translate Bio is a clinical stage therapeutics company that is developing a new class of medicines to treat diseases caused by protein or gene dysfunction. Its primary area of focus is the treatment of pulmonary diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), acute bronchitis, emphysema, and cystic fibrosis. The company is also exploring the potential use of its mRNA technology as a treatment for liver diseases, infectious diseases, and oncology. Its main therapeutic program which is in a phase 1/2 clinical trial is targeting the treatment of cystic fibrosis.
The strengthened partnership bodes well for both companies, but especially Translate Bio who will not only receive a potentially sizeable financial payout over the long-term but continue to benefit from Sanofi’s strong vaccine development and distribution platform.
The equity portion of Translate Bio’s upfront payment at $25.59 per share represents a 50% premium to the company’s 20-day moving average stock price. This helped drive Translate Bio’s stock higher by 47% on June 23rd to a record high of $23.87.
Translate Bio is scheduled to report second quarter financial performance on July 29th.