Cellectis is a strategic intellectual property partner for AstraZeneca in the field of off-the-shelf immunotherapies

SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS, France – November 02, 2023 │Cellectis and AstraZeneca announced their partnership through a Joint Research Collaboration Agreement, an $80 million initial equity investment, and a memorandum of understanding for an additional $140 million equity investment. The focus of this collaboration is to advance the development of cutting-edge treatments for critical medical conditions in oncology, immunology, and rare diseases. The agreement grants AstraZeneca exclusive access to 25 genetic targets and up to 10 candidates currently in the development pipeline. This strategic alliance aims to address the urgent need for innovative therapeutics in these therapeutic areas.
Regarding the technologies developed by Cellectis in the field of oncology, the company has adopted an allogeneic strategy for immunotherapies by developing off-the-shelf gene-edited CAR T-cells to treat cancer. By utilizing TAL nucleases, their gene editing platform has the potential to target a range of diseases. The innovative TALEN technology addresses critical obstacles in CAR-T treatment, such as lowering the risk of graft versus host disease and preventing rejection.

Cellectis: The Leading IP Player in Allogeneic CAR Cell Therapies

In the Allogeneic CAR Patent Landscape Analysis 2023 report, Knowmade has highlighted the strength of Cellectis’ patent portfolio in the field of immuno-oncology. Over 20% of Cellectis’ total portfolio is focused on allogeneic CAR cell therapies. Cellectis is the leading IP player with 46 patent families selected in the report, which comprises approximately 238 granted patents and 157 pending applications. This makes Cellectis the largest IP holder with a wide geographical coverage in the field of allogeneic CAR cell therapy.

The figure 1 below is a summary of Cellectis’ patent portfolio for off-the-shelf immunotherapies. The IP analysis shows that Cellectis has a strong international strategy, with granted patents and pending applications in the US, Europe, and Asia. The technologies disclosed in these patent families mainly relate to T cells derived from peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The primary gene editing technology described is TALEN targeting TRAC or other genes (CD52, B2M, PD1 etc.), although a few patents also describe the use of CRISPR. As for therapeutic applications, they primarily focus on hematological malignancies and solid tumors.

Graphi showing Cellectis' IP activity in the field of allogeneic CAR cell Therapies

Figure 1: Cellectis patent portfolio summary in the field of allogeneic CAR cell Therapies

Additionally, Cellectis’ patent portfolio has been identified as one of the most highly-cited in the area of allogeneic CAR, attracting citations from various renowned institutions such as Harvard College, MIT, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, TRON, as well as from several leading companies like Allogene Therapeutics, BioNTech, BMS, Caribou Biosciences, Crispr Therapeutics, Fate Therapeutics, Genentech, Roche, Novartis, and Pfizer. In particular, Cellectis holds the most highly-cited patent family for allogeneic CAR therapy, with approximately 350 forward citations for its “methods for engineering allogeneic and immunosuppressive resistant T cell for immunotherapy” (WO2013176915, see Figure 2 below). This patent family was Cellectis’ first patent publication in the allogeneic CAR published in 2013, and remains one of the most important patent families for the company in this therapeutic application.

B&W drawing of normal interaction between T-cells and antigen-presenting cells and allogeneic CAR T-cells

Figure 2: Schematic representation of (A) the typical interaction between T-cells and antigen-presenting cells, and (B) the genetically modified therapeutic T-cells, as described in the invention, interacting with the patient’s tumor cells (From WO2013176915).

A strategic partnership with AstraZeneca for off-the-shelf immunotherapies

Thanks to its extensive patent portfolio and its impact in the field, Cellectis is positioned as the IP leader in allogeneic CAR cell therapies, ahead of other companies such as CRISPR Therapeutics, Fate Therapeutics, Allogene Therapeutics, Precision Biosciences, and the Chinese company Gracell Biotechnologies. Therefore, Cellectis has significant differentiation capabilities in gene editing (TALEN) and oncology applications (off-the-shelf immunotherapies). Cellectis’ innovations are protected by a substantial patent portfolio, particularly for allogeneic CAR cell therapies, and complement AstraZeneca’s internal expertise. Indeed, despite being a major player in the field of oncology, AstraZeneca has been relatively absent from the first wave of CAR-T therapies in recent years. As a result, AstraZeneca is relying on the next generation of these cellular therapies through allogeneic CAR cell therapies. Thus, AstraZeneca’s investment in Cellectis will allow the company to leverage one of the pioneers and leaders in this technology.

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About the author
Brice Sagot, CEO and co-founder of KnowMade, leads the Biotechnology and Life Sciences department. He holds a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Nice SophiaAntipolis (France).

About KnowMade
KnowMade is a technology intelligence and IP strategy consulting company specialized in analyzing patents and scientific publications. The company helps innovative companies, investors, and R&D organizations to understand competitive landscape, follow technological evolutions, reduce uncertainties, and identify opportunities and risks in terms of technology and intellectual property.
KnowMade’s analysts combine their strong technology expertise and in-depth knowledge of patents with powerful analytics tools and methodologies to turn patent information and scientific literature into actionable insights, providing high added value reports for decision makers working in R&D, innovation strategy, intellectual property, and marketing. Our experts provide prior art search, patent landscape analysis, freedom-to-operate analysis, IP due diligence, and monitoring services.
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