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Cellectis and Cytovia in US$760m licence deal

Cell therapy specialist Cytovia Therapeutics Inc and genome editing expert Cellectis SAS partner to develop iPSC-derived natural killer (NK) cell-based cancer therapies.

Cytovia Therapeutics, Inc. and French Cellectis SAS have struck a licence deal to combine their different expertises in allogenic cancer cell therapy. Under the contract, Cytovia will pay up to $760m of development, regulatory, and sales milestones for five allogentic gene-edited iPSC-derived NK products that have been genetically engineered by Cellectis proprietary TALEN technology to carry a cancer-antigen specific chimeric antigen receptor. Cellectis will also receive single-digit royalty payments on the net sales of all partnered CAR-NK cell products commercialised by its US partner. According to the agreement, Cellectis may acquire an equity stake of $15m in Cytovia stock or an upfront cash payment of $15m.

So far, CAR-T- and CAR-NK cell therapies have only been proven effective in blood cancers that make up 10% of the entire cancer market. “Cellectis has a deep understanding and proven expertise in gene-edited cell therapies, and their gene editing technology, TALEN®, will yield NK and CAR-NK treatments with improved potency, persistence, and safety for a variety of cancers, including solid tumours”, believes Dr. Daniel Teper, Chairman & CEO of Cytovia Therapeutics. Cytovia’s plan is to bring first CAR-NKs into clinical trials by 2022.

Cytovia will use TALENs designed by Cellectis to to genetically edit iPSCs, expand and  differentiate  a gene-edited iPSC master cell bank into NK cells and will conduct all development and commercialisation work of selected therapeutic candidates. Cellectis grants Cytovia the global rights to use its TALEN® gene-editing technology, enabling Cytovia to modify NK cells addressing multiple gene targets for therapeutic use in several cancer indications.