Sanofi and Innate Pharma Expand Collaboration for Natural Killer Cell Therapeutics in Oncology

Natural Killer Cell Therapeutics in Oncology :

Sanofi and Innate Pharma SA today announced the expansion of their partnership, with Sanofi licencing an NK cell engager programme from Innate’s ANKETTM (Antibody-based NK Cell Engager Therapeutics) technology that targets B7H3. Additionally, Sanofi will have the choice to add up to two more ANKETTM targets. Sanofi will be in charge of all development, production, and commercialization following candidate selection.

Innate and Sanofi inked a first NK cell engagers partnership agreement in 2016 for the creation and assessment of up to two bispecific NK cell engagers, one of which is already in clinical trials. These compounds are currently being assessed by Sanofi’s R&D team.

“At Sanofi, we are exploring the potential of NK cells for cancer immunotherapy, a key pillar for our oncology strategy. Our relationship with Innate aligns with our commitment to work with promising French companies and supports our ambition to develop a diverse portfolio of next-generation NK cell engagers, highly synergistic with Sanofi’s allogeneic NK cell platform, engineered lymphokines that stimulate NK cells, and growing Immuno-oncology pipeline. As a leading global company with roots in France, we are proud to collaborate to support the French healthcare ecosystem.”

Valeria Fantin, Ph.D., Global Head of Oncology Research, Sanofi


“Building on the success of our existing collaboration on hematologic targets, we are pleased to expand and strengthen our partnership with Sanofi on NK Cell Engagers with the addition of up to three new programs, including in solid tumors. Sanofi’s investment in Innate further validates the value of our ANKETTM platform and its potential to address multiple tumor types. By incorporating various tumor antigen binders, NK Cell Engagers are a versatile technology that may provide new options for patients and offer clinical benefit across multiple cancers, whilst also maintaining a good safety profile. This agreement also highlights Innate’s strategy to build a broad portfolio of ANKET programs addressing different types of cancer.”

Yannis Morel, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Product portfolio strategy & Business development, Innate Pharma

Innate will receive a €25 million upfront payment, up to €1.35 billion in preclinical, clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments, plus royalties on prospective net sales, under the terms of the new licencing deal. The HSR must approve the deal before it can be closed.


The exclusive technology used by Innate to create next-generation, multi-specific natural killer (NK) cell engagers to treat particular forms of cancer is called ANKETTM (Antibody-based NK cell Engager Therapeutics).

An completely new class of chemicals are being developed by this adaptable, functional technology to promote synthetic immunity against cancer. In addition to providing signals for NK cell activation and proliferation, it makes use of the advantages of NK cell effector actions against cancer cells.

The tetra-specific ANKET molecule, our most recent invention, is the first NK cell engager technology to engage activating receptors (NKp46 and CD16), a tumour antigen, and an interleukin-2 receptor (through an IL-2 variation, IL-2v), all with a single molecule.

A research partnership and licencing deal between Sanofi and Innate from 2016

Innate Pharma’s technology and Sanofi’s unique bispecific antibody structure, along with tumour targets, were used in a research cooperation and licencing agreement for the creation and evaluation of up to two bispecific NK cell engagers in 2016.

IPH6101/SAR’579 (SAR443579), the first NKp46/CD16-based CD123-targeted ANKETTM NK cell engager, is being tested in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial by Sanofi in individuals with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukaemia (R/R AML), B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (B-ALL), or high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (HR-MDS).

Sanofi decided to advance IPH6401/SAR’514 (SAR445514) into investigational new drug (IND)-enabling trials in the summer of 2022. IPH6401/SAR’514 is a BCMA-targeting NK cell engager that makes use of the Cross-Over-Dual-Variable-Domain (CODV) format found in Sanofi’s CROSSODILE® multi-functional platform. Based on Innate’s ANKETTM unique technology, it causes a dual targeting of the NK activating receptors, NKp46 and CD16, for an optimal NK cell activation.

Sanofi is in charge of developing, producing, and commercialising goods originating from the research partnership under the terms of the original licencing agreement. Royalties on net sales and development and commercial milestone payments totaling up to €400 million will be available to Innate Pharma. To date, Innate has received milestone payments totaling €13 million.

Concerning Sanofi’s strategy for NK treatments in oncology

Sanofi is researching new cancer immunotherapies for patients by utilising the inherent properties of natural killer cells. Sanofi’s oncology approach includes natural killer cell-based medicines as a major tenet. Sanofi is advancing a wide and complementary range of NK-based therapies to revolutionise immune biology by using the innate potential of NK cells. The variety of our treatment options and special ability to innovate from beginning to end maximise the therapeutic options for more cancer patients.

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