Better late than never for Sanofi mRNA vaccine push

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It is fair to say that Sanofi has been the tortoise to Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna’s hares in mRNA vaccine development, but with a promised €400m ($475m) investment in its vaccines mRNA Center of Excellence, the French biotech is hoping to catch up. To do this Sanofi is utilising its existing collaboration with mRNA company Translate Bio, an agreement that has seen it make multiple investments into the partnership since 2018 and start development of a Covid-19 vaccine. Sanofi will have 400 staff at the centre's two sites in the US and France, with the aim of producing at least six clinical candidates by 2025. The lure of mRNA vaccines is clear: they can be developed and scaled quickly. This is why Glaxosmithkline has also stated its interest in the area. However, the technology is not without its problems. There remain issues around stability, which affects the duration of protein expression. Delivery into cells is also an issue; many vaccines using liquid nanoparticles, which are scaleable but carry the potential for side-effects. Moderna has also run into problems regarding IP issues for its nanoparticles. But if Sanofi can overcome some of these problems its latecomer status might not matter.

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