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Jul 29, 2014

Cellectis to Sell Stem Cell Subsidiary

  • Cellectis, a developer of cancer immunotherapies based on its engineered allogenic Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) platform, said today it will get out of the stem cell business sell its Swedish subsidiary Cellectis AB to Takara Bio. The price was not disclosed, though Cellectis said the deal would account for a loss of about €5 million ($6.7 million) this year.

    According to Cellectis, the sell-off reflected a further focusing of the company toward CAR-T therapies, both on its own and in partnership with Pfizer and Servier.  This morning, Pfizer said it absorbed about 5 cents a share in reduced earnings, due in part to an $80 million upfront payment it made to Cellectis last month when they launched their CAR-T collaboration—which could net Cellectis more than $2.885 billion.

    In contrast, Cellectis AB is focused on applications of human embryonic stem cell-based products and technologies for industry and researchers. Cellectis said it opted to sell the Swedish subsidiary as part of a reorganization of its “tools and services” business unit, following an operating loss last year of €14 million ($18.8 million) before extraordinary depreciation expenses and costs related to the company downsizing.

    The sell-off of Cellectis AB is expected to be completed “in the coming weeks,” Cellectis said, subject to customary closing conditions.

    Cellectis’ cancer immunotherapies are being developed to treat leukemias and solid tumors by using genome engineering expertise as applied through the company’s transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN™) platform for gene knock-out and targeted modification of genomes, as well as meganucleases and electroporation technology Pulse Agile. Cellectis’ platform uses engineered T-cells from a single donor for use in multiple patients, with the goal of developing CAR-T therapies that are distinct from other autologous approaches for engineering T-cells to fight tumor cells.

    Back in February, Cellectis began a separate partnership with Servier focused on research, development, and potential commercialization of six product candidates targeting solid tumors, including Cellectis’ lead candidate UCART19. Servier teamed up with Cellectis after publishing data it said showed UCART19 "eradicated" human leukemia cells transferred into mice.

    Servier agreed to exercise an exclusive worldwide option for a license on each product candidate developed. The licenses allow Servier to take over clinical development, registration and commercialization of each product from Cellectis after the end of Phase I. In return, Servier agreed to pay Cellectis $10 million upfront and up to $140 million in milestone payments for each of the six product candidates potentially developed, plus royalties on sales of commercialized products.

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