Sanofi, Innate Pharma Sign $434 Million Bispecific Antibody Pact
Sanofi and Innate Pharma, a Marseille, France-based biopharmaceutical company, have entered into a research collaboration and licensing agreement to apply Innate Pharma’s new proprietary technology to the development of bispecific antibody formats engaging natural killer (NK) cells to kill tumor cells through the activating receptor NKp46.
Sanofi and Innate Pharma will work together on the generation and evaluation of up to two bispecific NK cell engagers, using technology from Innate Pharma and Sanofi’s proprietary bispecific antibody format as well as tumor targets. Under the terms of the license agreement, Sanofi will be responsible for the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of products resulting from the research collaboration. Innate Pharma will be eligible to up to EUR 400 million ($434 million) in development and commercial milestone payments as well as royalties on net sales.
NKp46 is an activating receptor expressed on all natural killer cells. It is the most specific marker of human NK cells and plays a major role in their tumor cell recognition. NKp46-bispecific NK cell engagers bind with one arm to an antigen at the surface of tumor cells, and with another arm to the NKp46 receptor on NK cells. This leads to activation and specific tumor-killing by NK cells, an immune cell population representing a significant proportion of all cytotoxic lymphocytes in the body.
Innate Pharma focuses on developing therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases. The company has three clinical-stage programs, including two checkpoint inhibitors in immuno-oncology, a new therapeutic field focused on enhancing the capability of the body’s own immune cells to recognize and kill cancer cells. In addition to Sanofi, it has collaborations with Bristol-Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca, and Novo Nordisk A/S. The company has 112 employees (as of September 20, 2015).