As Sanofi helps to shape a new era in medicine, it is embracing strategic partnerships and collaborations that align science, technology and talent with opportunity. 

Science is fueled by collaboration, and in the first half of 2020 the world saw just how much can be achieved by pulling together across sectors and borders.

John Reed, Global Head of R&D, and Alban de La Sablière, Head of Sanofi Partnering, share how Sanofi's latest partnerships can accelerate the pace of R&D innovation and fuel its long-term success in oncology and immunology.

Cellular biologist at work in Sanofi's immuno-oncology laboratory in Vitry-sur-Seine, France.

Cellular biologist at work in Sanofi's immuno-oncology laboratory in Vitry-sur-Seine, France.

How do Sanofi's new partnerships impact its R&D outlook?

John Reed:

Our most recent collaborations demonstrate the diversity of Sanofi’s approaches to partnering. They range from small molecule drug discovery collaborations that use innovative chemistry for addressing compelling targets to novel cellular therapeutics based on promising new platform technology. We see these collaborations as springboards for learning new ways to create first-in-class and best-in-class therapeutics, as exemplified by the protein degrader technology pioneered by Kymera and the “universal” natural-killer-cell therapeutics platform invented by Kiadis.

We aren't just chasing single-product sales with these collaborations–we are laying a foundation for next-generation therapeutics discovery and development. Our goal is to build a sustainable framework for innovation so that we can really make a difference for patients now and well into the future.

Part of that means investing in early science, which is not just about taking risks internally, but also implies joining forces with pioneering external partners to continually build expertise from discovery through development.

This will expand our technology toolkit and give our scientists access to new ammunition in our fight against cancer, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases. It’s very exciting to see it all come together.

Alban de La Sablière:

Exactly! This is how we can progress science at all levels- through win–win alliances that build on synergies with our partners. Our business development team is more focused than ever on innovation. We have strong pipeline momentum at Sanofi, and the best way to sustain that is to find the complementary matches in terms of products, mechanism of action, talent, infrastructure, and technologies.

When we look for new technology partnerships, we are typically striving to bolster our capabilities in specific disease areas–however, the benefit often extends across many therapeutic areas.

Photo of Alban de La Sablière, head of partnering at Sanofi

Alban de La Sablière, Head of Sanofi Partnering.


How will these alliances change Sanofi’s R&D environment?

Alban de La Sablière:

Even during the extraordinary circumstances of the past six months we have continued closing deals, so that we remain competitive and focused in a fast-moving environment. We remain highly selective, making investments to complement our pipeline with innovative technologies, adding novel modalities to our toolbox, and strengthening our pipeline approach in diseases where patients need urgent solutions.

John Reed:

Indeed. We've been investing in complementary technologies as well as drug discovery and development collaborations at different stages of maturity. We've focused on early-stage collaborations because this allows us to build a more powerful R&D engine and a more robust pipeline, and overall to accelerate our delivery of potential first-in-class or best-in-class medicines for patients most in need. It also ensures we can stay ahead of the curve and think about the next technology or novel approaches while taking smart risks, compared to solely relying on acquisition of advanced-stage molecules.

For example, Kymera has expertise in developing protein degraders that act against difficult-to-reach targets in inflammatory diseases and other therapeutic areas, while Kiadis's novel cell-therapy approach is opening a new chapter in cancer therapeutics and inspiring our team to consider new treatment approaches. Our collaboration with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center leverages its exceptional clinical research infrastructure and world-class oncology investigators to help us better identify relevant patient populations, drug combinations, and potential new indications for our existing and investigational cancer medicines.

John Reed

John Reed, Global Head of R&D at Sanofi

Alban de La Sablière:

These new partnerships and alliances vary widely in size and scope, with most focused on important early-stage clinical research.

The recent partnerships John mentioned have progressed against the backdrop of remarkable high-profile collaborations aimed at combating COVID-19. We have supported international clinical studies to explore opportunistic drug repurposing and joined forces with GSK and Translate Bio in the search for a vaccine, combining our vaccines platforms and manufacturing capacities.

John Reed:

From experience we know that working with exceptional partners, regardless of size, geography, or setting, will enhance Sanofi's capacity to break new ground on many disease fronts–including those most relevant to our recent collaborations that focus on multiple myeloma and other cancer treatments as well as autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. These relationships are about more than new technologies and molecules–they infuse our culture with new ideas and ways of working that spur us to innovate rapidly across disease areas. This places us in a far better position to deliver transformative medicines for patients.

Alban de La Sablière:

These new partnerships and technologies build on the clear focus, breadth of knowledge and outstanding passion and energy of our R&D operations. We are stepping into a new era of science so we can bring life-transforming medicines to patients worldwide.

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