Press Release January 30, 2012

Goodwin Procter Helps Warp Drive Bio Structure “Groundbreaking” Partnership with Sanofi

Goodwin Procter recently advised Warp Drive Bio and Third Rock Ventures as it entered into an innovative strategic partnership with French pharmaceutical company, Sanofi.

Sanofi along with Third Rock and Greylock Partners will provide $125 million in financing to Warp Drive. Warp Drive will be fully independent, retaining strategic direction, operational management and full rights to select assets. It will also maintain the ability to secure additional partnerships beyond its Sanofi alliance. 

Another distinct aspect of the deal structure is that Sanofi will be obligated to buy Warp Drive if certain milestones are reached within the next five years. This structure benefits all parties involved: Warp Drive secures the funding it needs to aggressively advance its core research and development strategy; Sanofi gains access to potentially valuable drug candidates; and the investors decrease their liquidity risk. The deal has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, FierceBiotech and xconomy.

“It is a very creative transaction structure and will allow Warp Drive the funding to pursue transformative research in the area of natural products,” said Mitchell Bloom, Co-Chair of Goodwin Procter’s Life Science Practice, who led the transaction. “In my view, its exactly the type of collaboration between big pharma and venture capital that is necessary to lead to new and innovative drugs.”

“Crafting a novel business structure and making it real is never easy, but working with Mitch and the Goodwin team was a true pleasure” said Alexis Borisy, Partner at Third Rock Ventures and interim CEO of Warp Drive Bio. “We worked in a highly collaborative manner, with Goodwin providing the expert legal counsel and business creativity to help get this deal done.”

Founded by Harvard University professor and scientist Dr. Gregory Verdine, Harvard Medical School professor Dr. George Church, and University of California, San Francisco professor Dr. James Wells, Warp Drive Bio is driving the reemergence of natural products in the era of genomics to create breakthrough treatments. Built upon the belief that nature is the world’s most powerful medicinal chemist, Warp Drive Bio is deploying a battery of state-of-the-art technologies to access powerful drugs that are now hidden within microbes.

In addition to Mitch Bloom, the deal team included partners Christopher DennWilliam Whitledge and Arthur McGivern.