Sanofi, Selecta join hands in diabetes vaccine push

Selecta CEO Werner Cautreels

Selecta Biosciences and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) are widening their 2011 research collaboration for a Type 1 diabetes vaccine--and bringing in a little Big Pharma muscle, too.

Sanofi ($SNY) will join the pair in support of its efforts to develop a synthetic vaccine particle (SVP) immunotherapy to treat--and potentially prevent--the disease, Selecta announced Wednesday. JDRF and the French drugmaker will cofinance the program with an eye on advancing the SVP candidate into the clinic.

"This agreement with JDRF and Sanofi is a next step in our research to advance SVP in Type 1 diabetes," Selecta CEO Werner Cautreels said in a statement. "Selecta's proprietary SVP platform has broad applications in tolerance."

Sanofi, which already boasts an allergy immunotherapy pact with Selecta, isn't the first multinational pharma to partner up on a diabetes vaccine. A few years back, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) picked up a stake in a prospect from Diamyd Medical--one it later returned after the vaccine missed statistical signifance in a Phase III trial.

But Diamyd's hopeful has hung around, and it's one Selecta, JDRF and Sanofi may have to contend with down the line. The Swedish company's vaccine, now being tested in combination with vitamin D and ibuprofen, has attracted its own fair share of investment recently, picking up a €120,000 EU grant in August before bumping up an agreement with longtime partner Protein Sciences.

- read the release

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