Sanofi to invest $477M annually in mRNA vaccine research
The French drugmaker Sanofi says it plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually to research mRNA vaccines after some COVID-19 vaccines have successfully utilized the technology.
The company announced Tuesday that it will direct 400 million euros, or $477 million, every year to a Center of Excellence designed to speed up the research and development of mRNA vaccines.
The effort would aim to expand usage of mRNA vaccine technology beyond COVID-19 shots “to routine use in diseases with high unmet need.” The drugmaker predicts it will have at least six next-generation candidate vaccines by 2025.
“While mRNA won’t be the solution for every infectious disease, its translation into routine prevention could have immense impact for many unmet public health needs,” Thomas Triomphe, the global head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a release.
The Center of Excellence will employ 400 employees and operate at Sanofi sites in Cambridge, Mass., and Marcy l’Etoile, Lyon, in France.
As one of the largest vaccine manufacturers worldwide, Sanofi’s investment in mRNA vaccine research and development signals how mRNA technology could transform the vaccine industry.
Two of the three vaccines authorized in the U.S. — the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines — use mRNA technology and are considered to be effective against COVID-19 and the current variants.
Both were granted emergency authorization in December, leading to the administration of more than 178 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses and more than 132 million Moderna shots in the U.S.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, mRNA technologies demonstrated potential to deliver new vaccines faster than ever before,” Jean-Francois Toussaint, the global head of research and development at Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.
She noted more research is needed “to unlock the applications of mRNA in routine vaccination against a broader set of infectious diseases and across all ages.”
Sanofi had previously started research on vaccines using mRNA when partnering with Translate Bio in 2018.
Unlike traditional vaccines, mRNA vaccines instruct cells to make a spike protein to spark an immune response in the body to create antibodies. Most vaccines, on the other hand, inject a weakened or inactivated germ into the body to cause an immune response.
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