Cellectis and Weill Cornell Collaborate to Develop New Leukaemia Immunotherapies

Myeloblasts with Auer rods seen in Acute Myeloid LeukemiaCellectis, a French biopharmaceutical firm, has entered into a translational research collaboration with Weill Cornell Medical College situated in the US. The alliance will aim to fast-track development of a targeted immunotherapy for patients with acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML).

The partnership will be combining Cellectis’ work in the development and manufacture of gene edited CAR – T cell product candidates with Weill Cornell’s developmental therapeutics and their knowledge and resources in stem cell science.

It will also further advance the development of the Cellectis’s lead product candidate in AML, known as UCART123.

The research project will be overseen by Dr Gail Roboz, Weill Cornell leukaemia program director and Dr Monika Guzman, assistant professor of pharmacology in medicine. Dr Roboz will design and implement clinical testing of UCART123 in patients with AML. While, Dr Guzman specialises in preclinical and early-stage testing to optimize the development of stem cell-targeted cancer drugs.

Executive vice-president and chief operating officer at Cellectis, Dr Mathieu Simon, commented: “Weill Cornell offers unsurpassed expertise in translational research, with a wealth of leading-edge technologies and resources to help advance our pipeline of unique CAR-T product candidates.”

The company’s allogeneic CAR T-cell platform uses T-cells (immune cells) from healthy donors. The cells are then designed with a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR), allowing them to detect certain proteins (antigens) expressed on malignant tumours.

Large quantities of allogeneic CAR-modified T-cells are grown in the laboratory and then infused into a patient. The T cells then recognise and attack the stem cells harbouring the CD123 antigen, which is present on AML blast and stem cells.

Dr. Roboz noted: “CAR-T cells have shown remarkable promise in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Cellectis has interesting preclinical data on UCART123 and our alliance will seek to build on these findings to better understand the clinical potential of this therapy. Our patients are anxiously awaiting the start of clinical trials.”

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