PARIS & MARSEILLE, France—Sanofi and Innate Pharma announced in January that they have entered into a research collaboration and licensing agreement to apply Innate Pharma’s new proprietary technology to the development of innovative 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 licence agreement, Sanofi will be responsible for the development, manufacturing and commercialization of products resulting from the research collaboration. Innate Pharma will be eligible to receive up to €400 million in development and commercial milestone payments as well as royalties on net sales.
“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,” said Gary Nabel, chief scientific officer of Sanofi. “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.”
“There is a lot of excitement around bispecifics in immuno-oncology. By building on our knowledge of the activating receptor NKp46, we have generated a technology to specifically induce tumor killing by NK cells,” said Nicolai Wagtmann, chief scientific officer of Innate Pharma. “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.”
NKp46 is an activating receptor expressed on all NK 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.