Chinese tech giant Baidu Inc has licensed its algorithm for messenger RNA (mRNA) sequence to Sanofi SA for use in designing vaccine and therapeutic products.
entering its first such commercial deal with a major global drugmaker.
Sanofi had been one of the world’s biggest vaccine makers before the pandemic, but the French firm was beaten by rivals BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna in developing mRNA shots against COVID-19.
Sanofi stopped trials of its own mRNA COVID-19 shot in September, and is instead focusing on efforts with GlaxoSmithKline to bring another COVID-19 vaccine candidate to market based on the more conventional protein-based approach.
The French group said it would focus its mRNA resources on other infectious diseases and therapeutics with strong unmet need.
Baidu will receive milestone payments when any mRNA-based therapy or vaccine candidate discovered by Sanofi using its algorithm enters clinical trials, said Huang Liang, a Baidu scientist leading the project.
An mRNA-based vaccine contains mRNA sequence which instructs human cells to produce proteins that can spur the immune system into action.