Pfizer and Cellectis Enter Cancer Fighting Collaboration

June 18, 2014

Pfizer announced Wednesday it had signed a deal with French biotech company Cellectis to develop Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T), immunotherapy drugs for the treatment of cancer.

According to the deal, Pfizer will pay Cellectis an upfront payment of $80 million, as well as providing funding for research costs. The French firm also will be eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of up to $185 million per Pfizer product, plus tiered royalties on any future sales.

Pfizer will also obtain a 10 percent stake in Cellectis through newly issued shares, purchased at $12.55 a piece, the company said.

CAR-T immunotherapies use engineered and reprogrammed immune system cells from a single donor for use in multiple patients. This approach differs from other autologous technologies that rely on engineering a patient's own T-cells. The goal of CAR-T therapy is to eventually treat cancer using a standardized, off-the-shelf therapeutic product to hunt out cancer, Cellectis said.

Pfizer has exclusive rights to develop products against 15 biological targets for fighting cancer it selects, while another 12 targets can be selected by Cellectis — who will also oversee clinical development and commercialization of CAR-T therapeutics. Cellectis said it expects to open a site in the U.S. to work more closely with Pfizer.

The French drugmaker's research is still at an early stage but it hopes to start clinical trials in 2015, initially with a leukemia drug, it said. — Kellen Owings

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