Add the skin microbiome to Sanofi’s growing list of targets for its new messenger RNA vaccine strategy. The pharmaceutical giant acquires Origimm Biotechnology, an early-stage startup developing therapeutic vaccines to combat diseases and infections associated with skin-colonizing microbes.
No financial terms were disclosed in Wednesday’s announcement of the deal, which the companies are expected to close earlier this month.
The research of the Vienna-based Origimm Research Center focuses on the discovery of virulent skin microbes that cause diseases or lead to infections. Origimm (the company name stands for “Origins of Immunity”) says its proprietary technology selects proteins that bacteria use to invade human cells or to evade detection by the immune system. The biotech then uses these proteins to train the skin’s immune system to respond to the problematic bacteria.
Origimm’s first product candidate, ORI-001, is a therapeutic vaccine for acne vulgaris. This artificial protein-based vaccine fights Cutibacterium acnes, a bacterium that plays a key role in the development of moderate to severe acne. ORI-001 began preliminary clinical testing in the third quarter of this year. Sanofi said it was working on developing additional versions of antigen that use mRNA. Sanofi said it anticipates these vaccines should be ready for phase 1/2 testing by 2023.
Earlier this year, Paris-based Sanofi announced plans to invest heavily in mRNA by creating a division dedicated exclusively to the research and development of new mRNA vaccines. Sanofi has promised to pump 400 million euros annually into this new mRNA competence center with branches in the USA and France. As part of its mRNA strategy, Sanofi acquired Translate Bio in a $ 3.2 billion deal earlier this year. Since 2018 Translate Bio has been a partner of Sanofi in the development of mRNA vaccines against various diseases.
Origimm was founded by biotech industry veteran Sanja Selak, the company’s CEO and Chief Scientific Officer. From 2012 to 2014, she ran the business as a sole proprietorship, according to the company’s website. Origimm became a GmbH in 2014. Two years later, the startup announced the completion of a Series A financing round without specifying the amount.
Photo: CDC / Glen Lambert