French pharma giant Sanofi buys up US mRNA vaccine research firm

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French pharmaceutical group Sanofi has announced it is buying US firm Translate Bio, with which it has been working to develop an mRNA Covid jab, for 3.2 billion dollars, as it attempts to make up lost ground in the colossal market for Covid jabs.

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France's pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, which has lagged behind rivals in developing new-generation mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, on Tuesday said it has purchased a US firm specialising in the technology, reports FRANCE 24.

Sanofi will buy Translate Bio, with which it has been working to develop an mRNA Covid jab, for $3.2 billion (2.7 billion euros), the company said in a statement.

Sanofi was left trailing in the race to break out a Covid-19 vaccine in 2020, as rivals Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna used pioneering mRNA technology to develop jabs in record time.

In late June, it said it would invest 2 billion euros in the technology by setting up a "centre of excellence" employing 400 people at its laboratories in the US city of Cambridge and Marcy-L'Etoile near the French city of Lyon.

Messenger RNA technology works by providing human cells with the genetic instructions to make a surface protein of the coronavirus, which trains the immune system to recognise the real virus.

Making a traditional vaccine is a longer process that normally involves developing a weakened form of a pathogen. 

Sanofi, which initially went the traditional route, is still racing to make up ground in the colossal market for Covid jabs.

The European Medicines Agency only started a "rolling review" of Sanofi's coronavirus jab, developed with British firm GSK, on July 20th.

Read more of this AFP report published by FRANCE 24.

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