Sangamo's sickle cell alliance with Sanofi grinds to a halt as pharma giant switches focus to allo
After showcasing clinical data at #ASH21 for a sickle cell disease candidate, Sanofi has decided to throw in the towel on its 8-year partnership with collaborator Sangamo — and return its rights to the candidate.
The gene editing biotech announced the “transition” this morning, several days after Sanofi told Sangamo that the biotech was backing out of the deal. The Paris-based pharma giant will be returning its rights and obligations on SAR445136, a zinc finger nuclease gene-edited cell therapy back to Sangamo by the end of June.
Sangamo had originally partnered up with Biogen back in 2014, which then offloaded the partnership to Bioverativ, a Biogen spinout that Sanofi acquired for over $11 billion back in 2018. Sangamo received $20 million upfront from Biogen and had listed potentially $300 million in milestone payments at the time.
At #ASH21, researchers presented data on four patients enrolled in its Phase I/II Precizn-1 study — and while the data seem good on reducing pain events in patients with sickle cell disease, it is still a question of how much potential it has against other rival treatments, such as the CRISPR/CAS9-based CTX001, presented at ASH in 2020 out of CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex. And there’s a host of other gene editing players that are in the middle of R&D projects for the disease, as well.
According to Sangamo, Sanofi decided to transition the SCD program back to Sangamo following a recent change in Sanofi’s cell therapy strategy — to go more towards allogeneics and off the shelf. Sanofi put down more than $350 million in November 2020 to buy out Kiadis and acquire its NK-focused cell therapy platform.
And as a result, Sangamo is looking for a new collaboration partner.
Sangamo said that it expects the Phase I/II study to be completed as planned, and also expects Sanofi to continue paying the costs of the trial until June 28.
Sanofi R&D Head John Reed said in a statement that while the partnership on that drug is essentially over, it does not mean that we won’t see the two biotechs collaborating again, saying that Sanofi “will explore other possible collaboration opportunities.” And it’s certainly not the end of the world for Sangamo — it recently signed deals with Novartis and Biogen worth up to $3 billion to go after various neurological conditions.