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New mRNA Vaccine Interest

The French drugmaker Sanofi plans to invest €400 million (US $477 million) a year into mRNA vaccine research, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It adds that the mRNA vaccines developed COVID-19 pandemic illustrated to the company the value of the approach. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, mRNA technologies demonstrated potential to deliver new vaccines faster than ever before," Jean-François Toussaint, the head of research and development at Sanofi Pasteur, says in a statement.

The Journal notes that the mRNA vaccine field had been the purview of small companies – like Moderna and BioNTech, which developed SARS-CoV-2 vaccine – as their development requires different tools than traditional vaccine work and had not, but that now larger pharmaceutical firms like Sanofi, but also Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline are expanding into the field.

Sanofi says it plans to establish an mRNA vaccine research center with 400 employees and that the center will help accelerate the development of mRNA vaccines develop through its collaboration with Translate Bio.

The Scan

Panel Votes for COVID-19 Pill

A US Food and Drug Administration panel has voted to support the emergency use authorization of an antiviral pill for COVID-19 from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, CNN says.

But Not Harm

New Scientist reports that UK bioethicists say that though gene editing may improve food production, it should not harm livestock welfare.

Effectiveness Drop Anticipated

Moderna's Stéphane Bancel predicts that that current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reports.

Cell Studies of Human Chromatin Accessibility, SARS-CoV-2 Variants, Cell Signaling Networks

In Cell this week: chromatin accessibility maps of adult human tissues, modeling to track SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, and more.