Adagene and Sanofi have entered a partnership and exclusive licence agreement to develop and commercialise masked monoclonal and bispecific antibodies.

According to the deal, Adagene will handle initial stage research activities and leverage its SAFEbody technology for developing masked versions of Sanofi candidate antibodies. 

Sanofi will be fully in charge of late-stage research as well as all the clinical, product development and marketing efforts.

Adagene is entitled to receive an upfront payment of $17.5m from Sanofi. 

It could progress two initial antibody candidates of Sanofi in the alliance, with an option for two more candidates. 

Furthermore, Adagene will receive a total of up to $2.5bn in potential development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments for progressing the candidates.

Sanofi will exclusively develop and market these candidates. 

The company will also make tiered royalty payments based on international net product sales to Adagene.

Sanofi Oncology Research global head Valeria Fantin said: “Committed to chasing the miracles of science, we look forward to working with Adagene to design antibodies that can help us deliver on our mission to bring transformative new medicines to people living with cancer. 

“Adagene’s antibody platform should help us to precisely target established, but poorly addressed oncology mechanisms with best-in-class medicines.”

By leveraging precision masking technology to protect the biologic therapy’s binding domain, the SAFEbody technology of Adagene could solve the safety and tolerability issues linked to various antibody therapies. 

The technology can be used for various treatment modalities, including monoclonal and bispecific antibodies such as antibody-drug conjugates, T-cell engagers and Fc empowered antibodies.

In January, Sanofi signed a research collaboration and licence agreement with Exscientia to develop up to 15 small-molecule therapies across oncology and immunology.