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Paris-based Sanofi Acquires Translate Bio to Improve mRNA Offerings

Paris-based Sanofi has offered to buy U.S. biotech company Translate Bio. The French drugmaker bets on next-generation mRNA technology after setbacks in the COVID-19 vaccine race.Shares in the New York-listed biotech company soared more than 70% to above $50 in extended trading, building on the big gains in the stock as investors have piled into the sector amid a rush to develop vaccines and treatments to tame the pandemic which has killed 4.3 million and roiled the global economy.

An offer for all Translate Bio shares had been made to the U.S. group’s shareholders, the sources said. The persons declined to be identified due to the confidentiality of the talks. Translate’s board was expected to meet on Monday to discuss the offer, one of the sources said. A source said that Paris-based Sanofi directors had met on Sunday to discuss the potential deal.

A spokeswoman for Paris-based Sanofi declined to comment, and Translate Bio did not respond to requests by email and phone for comment. The financial terms of the offer were not known. Translate Bio’s market value has soared fivefold since the start of the pandemic, to about $2.2 billion at the close on Monday. During trading on Thursday, its shares hit an all-time intraday high of $36.98.The takeover would mark the latest interest by a large pharmaceutical company in mRNA technology, following its proven success in COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer if the merger is successful. The messenger RNA approach, an area of Translate Bio expertise, instruct human cells to make specific proteins that produce an immune response to a given disease.

Sanofi and Translate Bio have been working together since 2018 and joined forces last year to develop an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. They expect interim results of their Phase I/II clinical trial in the third quarter. Both the companies are looking at mRNA vaccines for several infectious diseases and in June started a Phase I trial evaluating a possible mRNA-based vaccine against seasonal influenza, building on Sanofi’s expertise as one of the world’s top flu vaccine makers.

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