UPDATED: Low-profile startup stakes its claim to Sanofi's siRNA platform in wake of setbacks
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A biotech in China reports today that it will be scooping up a string of preclinical siRNA programs from Sanofi as the multinational player laterals a dormant development platform to the Lilly-backed group in Shanghai.
Details are sparse, but Rona Therapeutics — which scored a $33 million launch round in April from Lilly Asia Ventures, CMB International, Platanus, Fontus Capital and Lanting Capital — says it gained worldwide exclusive rights to Sanofi’s siRNA platform.
The deal includes new drugs for neuro and muscular diseases, and Sanofi is hanging on to options in those areas for ex-China rights to anything that makes its way to an approval.
There was an upfront in the deal, but no one is saying for how much.
Sanofi has had a star-crossed journey in the RNA field, initially scoring a major alliance with Alnylam, then exiting with fitusiran in the pipeline for hemophilia. Safety issues forced a revamp of that late-stage program, and just days ago the pharmacy giant flagged a failure for its microRNA drug lademirsen, partnered with Regulus.
But this deal has nothing directly to do with those programs. A spokesperson for Sanofi tells me that the company is spinning out an internally developed siRNA platform, which they put on the shelf back in 2019. Sanofi is also keeping the deal terms here quiet.
“Rona plans to quickly advance the development of these programs in metabolic, neurological and ocular diseases to unlock the potential of siRNA therapeutics,” said Stella Shi, the CEO of Rona Therapeutics.