Sanofi Spends $360m to Accelerate Cell Therapy Drugs for Oncology & Infectious Disease

Sanofi Spends $360m to Accelerate Cell Therapy Drugs for Oncology & Infectious Disease

French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi has made an offer to acquire Kiadis, a clinical-stage biotech company developing what they refer to as ‘off the shelf’ natural killer (NK) cell based mechanisms for the treatment of life-threatening diseases. The parties entered into a definitive agreement under which Sanofi will make a public offer (subject to satisfaction of certain customary conditions) to acquire the entire share of capital of Kiadis for EUR 5.45 per share, representing an aggregate adjusted equity value of €308 million ($358m). The cell therapy movement gathers momentum.

TrialSite provides a brief overview of why this transaction occurred.

Does this deal evidence the growing momentum of the cell therapy research and development space?


Why did Sanofi choose Kiadis for this acquisition?

Sanofi was on the hunt for complementary science/intellectual property assets that can bolster and improve its emerging immuno-oncology pipeline. Ultimately, as John Reed, MD PhD, Global Head of Research and Development at the company suggested, they ultimately want to develop “best-in-disease approaches.” 

Sanofi identified that the existing Kiadis intellectual property, that is ‘off the shelf’ natural killer (NK) cell based medicines offer synergistic elements to offer the company “…broad application against liquid and solid tumors.”

What will be Sanofi’s primary focus? How will they leverage this platform?

Assuming Sanofi can pull off the deal, they will target precious capital and resources to accelerate the development of the Kiadis platform targeting blood tumors, solid cancers and infectious diseases.

What is Kiadis background?

Founded in the late 1990s, this Dutch biotech was focused on complications and limitations of hematopoietic stem cell transplants in blood cancer patients. The backers wanted to offer novel treatment options for terminally ill cancer patients addressing high-unmet medical needs. See Kiadis’ website

Why did Kiadis sell the company now?

Well, first, it’s important to note that the company ran into troubles and had to make a number of painful changes just in 2019 including the discontinuation of their lead product candidate. They also reorganized that year and focused into 2020 centering attention on positioning their differentiated NK-cell platform acquired via the acquisition of Cytosen Therapeutics.

Also drug development, from research and development to clinical trials is an incredibly expensive and high risk activity. The Kiadis management and board were ready to work with a multinational pharmaceutical company to improve the odds of accelerating the development of their NK-cell products, ultimately to benefit patients. Because the price was right (shareholder value) they made the move.

What is Kiadis’ proprietary platform?

It’s based on allogenic or ‘off-the-shelf’ NK cells from a healthy donor. NK cells seek and identify malignant cancer cells and possess broad application across a myriad of tumor types. Its represents a compelling opportunity to develop powerful cancer therapies at attractive price points, meaning greater commercial availability for broader populations across more cancer indications.

Has Sanofi and Kiadis done any business together?

Yes. In July 2020, Sanofi entered into a licensing agreement to secure their preclinical K-NK004 program for potential combination for multiple myeloma.

Will Sanofi continue to allow for the separate development based on Kiadis IP?

Yes. They will continue to develop NK cell-based medicines stand alone as well as in combination with existing Sanofi platforms.

What’s Kiadis pipeline look like?

K-NK002 is in a Phase 2 clinical study evaluating NK cells to prevent post-transplant relapse in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes. The Phase 2 trial will be conducted in collaboration with premier U.S. transplant centers.

K-NK003 is a Phase 1 study evaluating NK cells for patients with relapsed or refractory AML.

KNK-ID-101 is a program evaluating the properties of K-NK cells and their suitability to fight SARS-CoV-2 and the option to develop K-NK cells as a post-exposure pre-emptive therapy for COVID-19 in high risk patients. Kiadis plans to initiate a phase 1/2a clinical trial evaluating use of K-NK cells to treat COVID-19 patients with government grant funding.