Just as vaccines transformed medicine over a century ago, the rapid technological advances of the past decade are changing drug development as we know it. At Sanofi, industry-leading technology platforms are giving our R&D teams the tools they need to design pioneering therapeutics that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. These technologies are also shedding new light on the biology behind many diseases, helping our teams target the root causes of disease with more precise medicines.
Small molecules–drugs typically taken as a pill and absorbed into the body via the gut–can enter cells easily and interact with biological targets to treat disease. Our small molecule platforms help our teams develop innovative treatments across therapeutic areas. One example is cancer, where many therapies in use today are small molecule drugs that can disrupt the functioning of cancer cells. Our teams are using protein degrader technology and other approaches to develop drugs that could destroy key proteins in several types of cancer, including breast cancer.
Our TAILORED COVALENCY® platform gives our scientists unprecedented control over how a drug can bind–reversibly or irreversibly–to its target protein. Our teams can design drug candidates that create a strong bond with two targets: the target site affecting the disease, and a unique site adjacent to it. This approach works like a "double lock and key". Small molecules can be designed to stay on their target for longer periods of time, which reduces their ability to interact with other, off-target molecules. This could reduce the need for the sustained, elevated drug levels that are typically required by standard drugs, and potentially minimize unintended side effects.
Novel Antibody Technologies
Monoclonal antibodies are highly specialized immune proteins that can be engineered to recognize and interact with specific targets in the body. Our teams are using several different monoclonal antibody technologies to develop new therapeutics against cancer, viral infections, and other diseases.
Enzymes are proteins that work as catalysts, accelerating biochemical processes by binding to specific targets. Just as only one key can fit precisely into a lock, only certain compounds can be bound by a particular enzyme. This is one reason enzymes have so much therapeutic potential. Our teams are designing enzymes to be used as treatments for a range of metabolic diseases.
Our teams are working on ways to repair defective, disease-causing genes by adding or removing DNA directly. These techniques rely on specialized enzymes that cut DNA at defined locations, including (but not limited to) zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs), a class of DNA-binding proteins that facilitate targeted genome editing. Using Sangamo Therapeutics' advanced ZFN technology, Sanofi and Sangamo researchers are collaborating to develop gene-edited cell therapies that could treat hemoglobinopathies, such as sickle-cell disease.