- French biopharmaceutical company Cellectis will tap Switzerland's Lonza to manufacture its experimental CAR-T cell therapies for blood cancers, in an effort to expand its product supply for clinical studies.
- Lonza will produce the therapies at its facility in Geleen, Netherlands, complementing manufacturing at two Cellectis sites currently under construction, the companies said in an Oct. 1 release.
- No financial details were disclosed by the companies. Lonza has made cell and gene therapies a recent focus, opening an expansive site in Texas last year and ramping up its offerings to companies working in the space.
Unlike other companies in the CAR-T space, Cellectis is betting on an allogeneic, or "off-the-shelf," approach. Its UCART therapies employ cells from healthy donors that are genetically engineered and then frozen to allow for on-demand treatment.
On-market products like Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) or Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel), by contrast, rely on cells extracted from the patients themselves, meaning each treatment must be individually constructed.
Cellectis say its process promises the possibility of mass production, should its products win approval in the future.
On the downside, the company has had to face concerns about higher immunogenic risk with its process, and its technology has taken time to develop. Frustration at the pace may have played a role in Pfizer's decision last year to hand the rights to CAR-T candidates it had licensed from Cellectis to a new company called Allogene Therapeutics.
Before signing the deal with Lonza, Cellectis announced plans in March for in-house manufacturing sites in Raleigh, North Carolina and Paris, France. Together the two facilities will give Cellectis nearly 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space for both commercial and clinical use.