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11 January, 2021 - 11:35 By Tony Quested

Sanofi buys Kymab for $1.45 billion

Cambridge antibody powerhouse Kymab has abandoned plans to go it alone and float on the US NASDAQ exchange and instead sold the business to French pharma company Sanofi for $1.45 billion.

Sanofi will pay $1.1bn up front out of existing cash resources plus milestone-based increments of up to $350 million. The deal is expected to complete in the first quarter of this year.

J.P. Morgan is acting as financial adviser to Kymab, which is based at Babraham Research Campus, and Goodwin PLC is acting as its legal counsel.

The deal continues a sorry exit of Cambridge UK technology and life science companies into foreign ownership in recent months following acquisitions of Arm, DisplayLink, Horizon, UltraSoC and others.

Kymab was founded by Professor Allan Bradley and Dr Glenn A Friedrich in 2010 based on developments in Prof. Bradley’s laboratory at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

The transaction will result in Sanofi having full global rights to KY1005, a fully human monoclonal antibody that has a novel mechanism of action. KY1005 binds to OX40-Ligand and has the potential to treat a wide variety of immune-mediated diseases and inflammatory disorders.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO, said: “The Kymab acquisition adds KY1005 to our dynamic pipeline, a potential first-in-class treatment for a range of immune and inflammatory diseases. 

“The novel mechanism of action may provide treatment for patients with suboptimal responses to available therapies. We understand from our ongoing work in debilitating immunological diseases how critical it is to find the right treatment for each patient. We look forward to rapidly developing this investigational medicine.”

Kymab CEO Simon Sturge added: “The agreement is a testament to the commitment, drive and expertise of the entire Kymab team and we are pleased to receive this endorsement from Sanofi. 

“With its significant global resources we believe Sanofi is the perfect partner to progress Kymab’s pipeline of products and the merger will expedite the time it takes for our novel therapies to get to patients.”

In August 2020, Kymab announced that KY1005 met both primary endpoints in a Phase 2a trial studying moderate to severe atopic dermatitis patients whose disease is inadequately controlled with topical corticosteroids. 

KY1005 demonstrated a consistent treatment effect versus placebo across various key endpoints, including in the Eczema Area and Severity Index  and additional objective clinical measures.

Kymab’s pipeline also includes the oncology asset KY1044, an ICOS agonist monoclonal antibody, currently in early Phase 1/2 development as monotherapy and in combination with an anti-PD-L1. 

The acquisition also provides Sanofi with access to new antibody technologies and research capabilities. Sanofi employs more than 100,000 people in 100 countries.

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