- Cellectis has entered into a development agreement with Switzerland-based MabQuest to develop a new class of anti-PD1 monoclonal antibodies. The two companies are targeting a different mechanism of action than currently approved anti-PD1 treatments
- Cellectis hopes these new antibodies can be used in combination with existing treatments like Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo or Merck's Keytruda in order to boost the recovery of T-cells from exhaustion.
- In addition, the team will explore combining the anti-PD1 antibodies with Cellectis’ gene-edited CAR-T therapy to enhance T-cell activity and extend the cells life.
“This collaboration is an important building block for our gene-edited UCART product candidates and for our immunotherapy franchise,” Cellectis CEO André Choulika said.
Under the terms of the agreement, Cellectis will fund preclinical research, which will be jointly pursued by the two companies. Once the best antibodies for development are chosen, Cellectis will take the lead on clinical development and commercialization.
MabQuest is a relative newcomer, but Cellectis has been making headlines with its CAR-T technology. Last November, Cellectis announced a major breakthrough when an 11-month-old baby girl with fatal, refractory leukemia was apparently cleared of her cancer two months after treatment with its experimental CAR-T therapy.
The company has taken a different approach to CAR-T than Kite, Juno, and Novartis, the other big players in this new field. Whereas those three firms are pursuing individualized treatments based on T-cells extracted from each patient, Cellectis is developing an off-the-shelf treatment, known as UCART19. This allogeneic approach could potentially be used with a broader group of patients and reduce some of the manufacturing burden associated with the other approach.