Global Briefs: Sanofi, Amgen & Astellas 

A roundup of news from Sanofi, Amgen, Astellas, and CureVac. Highlights below. 

* Sanofi Unveils New Campus in US 
* FDA OKs Amgen’s Biosimilar to Roche’s/Biogen’s Rituxan 
* Astellas, GO Therapeutics in $784-M Immuno-Oncology Pact 
* CureVac Acquires Frame Cancer Therapeutics for $34 M 

Sanofi Opens New Campus in US 
Sanofi has opened a new campus at Cambridge Crossing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, consisting of two buildings totaling 900,000 square feet. 

The campus is designed to enhance collaboration between the company’s R&D team, medical team, and its Specialty Care business unit and houses 2,500 employees.   

Separately, Sanofi has launched a digital accelerator to develop products that will support the practice of medicine with the use of digital capabilities, data and artificial intelligence (AI). Based in Paris, it brings together a team of over 75 people and will continue to recruit in digital product management, full stack development, and data science. 

The digital accelerator will reach 300 people in the next two years (as reported on June 8, 2022) at locations that will support the company’s global digital strategy, attract new talent, and further integrate ways of working into the company’s culture. 

The digital accelerator is first focusing on atopic dermatitis in France, Italy, and Spain. The team is developing a platform and data service to engage with healthcare professionals and enhance awareness of the disease and the available treatment options. 

Source: Sanofi (new campus) and Sanofi (digital accelerator) 

FDA OKs Amgen’s Biosimilar to Roche’s/Biogen’s Rituxan 
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Amgen’s Riabni (rituximab-arrx), a biosimilar to Biogen’s/Roche’s blockbuster drug, Rituxan/MabThera, for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Specifically the biosimilar was in combination with methotrexate for adults with moderate to severely active rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response to one or more tumor necrosis factor antagonist therapies.  

Riabni is already approved for the treatment of adult patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (also called Wegener’s granulomatosis), and microscopic polyangiitis. 

Amgen has a total of 11 biosimilars in its portfolio, including potential treatments for chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer. There are currently five biosimilars approved in the US and three approved in the European Union from Amgen’s portfolio.   

Source: Amgen 

Astellas, GO Therapeutics in $784-M Immuno-Oncology Pact 
Astellas, through its subsidiary, Xyphos Biosciences, has entered into a strategic research collaboration and license agreement with GO Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based bio/pharmaceutical company, to develop immuno-oncology therapeutics, in a deal worth up to $784 million ($20.5 million upfront and $763 million in milestone and contingency payments).  

GO Therapeutics is applying new advances in glycoproteomics to develop antibody-based cancer therapeutics. Astellas’ Xyphos Biosciences has a proprietary technology platform, Accel, which uses convertible chimeric antigen receptors on immune cells. 

The two companies will collaborate exclusively to identify antibodies with high affinity to two different glycoprotein targets and apply these antibodies to a range of therapeutic modalities. GO Therapeutics will lead the collaboration to discover high-affinity antibodies against the two targets, and Astellas will be responsible for research activities, clinical development, and commercialization of the therapeutics derived from the antibodies provided by GO Therapeutics.  

Under the agreement, Astellas’ Xyphos Biosciences will pay GO Therapeutics $20.5 million in upfront cash. Milestone and contingency payments could total up to another $763 million. 

Source: Astellas  

CureVac Acquires Frame Cancer Therapeutics for $34 M 
CureVac, a Tubingen, Germany-based clinical-stage bio/pharmaceutical company developing messenger mRNA therapeutics and vaccines, has acquired Frame Cancer Therapeutics, an Amsterdam-based company focused on advanced genomics and bioinformatics to identify neoantigens across different cancer types, EUR 32 million ($34 million). 

Frame’s FramePro platform identifies structural changes within the cancer genome that give rise to new open reading frames. An additional application of Frame’s technology is the development of personalized cancer vaccines, utilizing the antigenic potential of a tumor. In December 2021, regulators in the Netherlands approved Frame’s clinical trial protocol to evaluate this approach based on a peptide vaccine in 15 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. CureVac will refocus development of personalized cancer vaccines on an mRNA modality. 

The total consideration for the acquisition of Frame Therapeutics is valued at EUR 32 million ($34 million). It will be paid in CureVac shares. Following a 50% upfront payment, the residual amount will be split across two project milestone driven steps. CureVac will expand the antigen discovery and validation activities at the Amsterdam Science Park. 

Source: CureVac