The acquisition of Amunix will enable Sanofi to discover and develop advanced T-cell engagers (TCE) and cytokine medicines for the treatment of cancer


Sanofi-Aventis headquarters in Paris, France. (Credit: Tangopaso/Wikipedia.)

French healthcare company Sanofi has agreed to acquire US-based immuno-oncology company Amunix Pharmaceuticals for around $1.2bn.

The deal would enable Sanofi to discover and develop advanced T-cell engagers (TCE) and cytokine medicines for the treatment of cancer.

With the acquisition, Sanofi is expected to benefit from Amunix’s clinically validated XTEN and universal protease-releasable masking technology platform, Pro-XTENTM.

Amunix’s lead candidate AMX-818, a masked HER2-directed TCE, is said to support Sanofi’s efforts in the development of immuno-oncology therapies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi will make an upfront payment of around $1bn, along with milestone payments of up to $225m in the future.

The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022, subject to the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust law, and other customary closing conditions.

Sanofi R&D global head John Reed said: “This acquisition demonstrates our ongoing commitment to investing in promising research and discovery platforms.

“The Amunix technology platform utilizes a next-generation smart biologics approach to precisely tailor-deliver medicines to become active only in tumour tissues while sparing normal tissues, thus bringing the promise of more effective and safer treatment options for cancer patients.

“We are excited to rapidly advance Amunix’s promising pipeline and to combine their innovative candidate medicines with complementary molecules in Sanofi’s immuno-oncology portfolio.”

Amunix’s XTEN masks and cleavable linkers follow an advanced protein engineering approach, where biologics remain in stealth mode.

They become active only in disease-specific micro-environments, facilitating safe and more effective treatment.

Amunix leverages the technology to design its molecules to be long-lasting, converting after activation in disease tissues and clearing the active molecule from the body.

The technology is said to address challenges in immuno-oncology, related to the adoption of T-Cell Engager bi-specific antibodies for solid tumours.

The challenges include undesirable immune attacks of healthy cells and immune system activation leading to Cytokine Release Syndrome.

Amunix CEO Angie You said: “We are very proud of what the extraordinary and diverse Amunix team has accomplished in the development of our Pro-XTEN technology and rapid expansion of our pipeline.”

Amunix co-founder, president and chief technology officer Volker Schellenberger said: “We now look forward to combining forces with Sanofi’s team to leverage its expertise and together serve as a centre of excellence in bringing these potentially better and safer drug candidates to patients.”

Weil, Gotshal & Manges is serving as legal counsel to Sanofi on the transaction, while Centerview Partners is acting as a financial advisor and Fenwick & West as legal counsel to Amunix.

Earlier this month, Sanofi agreed to acquire Austrian biotech company Origimm Biotechnology to add a vaccine candidate for acne to its pipeline.