Research Collaboration Will Focus on the Development of New CAR T-Cell Treatments

Servier and Transgene to investigate Transgene’s viral vectorization technologies.

To improve chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell genome modification for the production of CAR T-cell therapies, Servier and Transgene, part of Institut Mérieux, will work together in a three-year research collaboration. The companies will investigate the use of Trangene’s vectorization technologies to engineer allogeneic CAR T-cells, including UCART19, Servier’s early clinical-stage drug candidate.

The first goal of the partnership is to develop vectorization tools using Transgene’s vector platform that will require fewer steps and result in improved integration tools, leading to more precise and easy-to-perform CAR T-cell genome modification. The overall goal is to develop more effective treatments based on CAR T-cells.

As part of the agreement, Trasngene has the potential to receive milestone payments of up to $34.2 million. Servier, meanwhile, will retain the rights to use of any new vectors developed during the collaboration in its cell therapy drug candidates.

UCART19 was originally developed by Cellectis. Servier obtained exclusive rights to the candidate in 2015 for the development of treatments for hematologic cancers. Servier also signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Pfizer to co-develop and commercialize UCART19. Earlier in 2017 Sevier received FDA approval to conduct a Phase I study of UCART19 for the treatment of relapsed or refractory CD19+ B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), which it will carry out.

“Allogeneic cell therapies using CAR-T open a major field of innovation in the treatment of cancer,” stated Patrick Therasse, M.D., oncology R&D director at Servier. “However, each of the steps in their complex manufacturing process requires specific development and optimization efforts, in order to provide patients with the best possible therapeutic options. And we look for the best partners to move these products forward.”

Cellectis chairman and CEO André Choulika, Ph.D. observed that “Transgene stands among the most advanced companies in the world in the development of vector technologies. We are convinced that this collaboration will result in a next generation of UCART19 that will confirm the initial results of this product candidate, but also will lead to ways to optimize production, costs, and potentially explore its use in other leukemia indications.”

Other notable companies seeking the first FDA approval for a CAR T-cell therapy include Novartis and Kite Pharma.


Cynthia A. Challener, Ph.D.

Dr. Challener is an established industry editor and technical writing expert in the areas of chemistry and pharmaceuticals. She writes for various corporations and associations, as well as marketing agencies and research organizations, including That’s Nice and Nice Insight.