Servier has exercised its option to acquire exclusive worldwide rights to Cellectis’ lead Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) blood cancer immunotherapy candidate, the Phase I-ready UCART19, the companies said today, in a deal that could generate up to $338 million-plus for Cellectis.

In a separate deal announced at the same time, Servier inked an agreement with Pfizer to co-develop and co-commercialize the immunotherapy, but terms of that transaction were not disclosed.

Servier’s exercise of its rights option came in an amendment to a collaboration signed with Cellectis in February 2014 to develop UCART19. The immunotherapy uses Cellectis’ allogeneic approach to develop CAR-T therapies in which T-cells are engineered from non-patient donors for use in multiple patients.

UCART19 is a TALEN® gene-edited allogeneic CAR-T immunotherapy being developed for hematological malignancies. UCART19 is about to enter Phase I clinical testing for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Cellectis will receive from Servier $38.2 million upfront, and is eligible for more than $300 million in milestone payments, R&D financing, and royalties on sales from Servier, based on annual net sales of commercialized products.

“Servier’s early option exercise is a strong recognition of the potential value of UCART19 for patients, as the first allogeneic CAR-T therapy expected to move into clinical development that utilizes Cellectis’ TALEN gene-editing technologies,” Cellectis chairman and CEO André Choulika, Ph.D., said in a statement.

Under its deal with Pfizer, Servier will work with the pharma giant on a joint clinical development program for UCART19 and share development costs. Pfizer will oversee potential commercialization of UCART19 in the U.S., while Servier will retain marketing rights elsewhere in the world.

“This collaboration on the development of the UCART19 asset builds on Pfizer’s position in the CAR-T space and our growing portfolio of investigational immuno-oncology assets, which is a major priority for our oncology business,” stated Mikael Dolsten, M.D., Ph.D., president, worldwide research and development at Pfizer.

Added Emmanuel Canet, M.D., president, research and development at Servier: “The partnership between Pfizer and Servier is a major step in the development of UCART19 and our ambition to provide innovative drugs for patients in oncology.”

Pfizer’s collaboration on UCART19 is separate from its up-to-$2.9 billion alliance with Cellectis launched in June 2014. That partnership that did not include UCART19, Cellectis said. A month later Cellectis announced it was selling its stem cell subsidiary to Takara Bio.

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