Sanofi Research Center France

Sanofi has entered an agreement with Innate Pharma to develop new bispecific natural killer (NK) cell engagers in immuno-oncology.

As part of the research collaboration and licensing agreement, the companies will jointly work to generate and evaluate up to two bispecific NK cell engagers using Innate’s technology and Sanofi’s bispecific antibody format, as well as tumour targets.

Under the licence agreement, Sanofi will be responsible for the development, manufacturing and commercialisation of products resulting from the research collaboration.

Innate Pharma will be eligible to up to €400m in development and commercial milestone payments, as well as royalties on net sales.

Sanofi will lead development, manufacturing and marketing of any products, while Innate could receive payments of nearly €400m and royalties on net sales.

Sanofi chief scientific officer Gary Nabel said: "Over the past year, Sanofi has launched strategic corporate collaborations in the field of immuno-oncology that exemplify our commitment to open innovation in R&D and have the potential to transform the treatment of cancer.

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"We seek to create new bispecific antibodies that will focus the immune system to kill cancer cells by engaging natural killer cells."

"Working with Innate Pharma, we seek to create new bispecific antibodies that will focus the immune system to kill cancer cells by engaging natural killer cells."

Innate has developed a technology to specifically induce tumour killing by NK cells using its knowledge of the activating receptor Nkp46, which is the most specific marker of human NK cells and plays a major role in their tumour cell recognition.

The company said that NKp46-bispecific NK cell engagers bind with one arm to an antigen at the surface of tumour cells, and with another arm to the NKp46 receptor on NK cells.

Innate Pharma chief scientific officer Nicolai Wagtmann said: "This new technology platform is complementary to our innovative portfolio of first-in-class antibodies targeting immune checkpoints.

"We intend to use it for our internal portfolio expansion, as well as through non-exclusive agreements with other companies, such as in this agreement with Sanofi."

Image: Sanofi’s research centre in Chilly-Mazarin, France. Photo: courtesy of Eric Larrayadieu / Interlinks Image.