Cellectis and MabQuest Collaborate on New Class of Monoclonal Antibodies

March 21, 2016
BioPharm International Editors

The new class of mAbs differs from approved anti-PD 1 mAbs because they do not block the PD-1-PD-L1 interaction.

Cellectis, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing immunotherapies based on gene edited CAR T-cells (UCART), and MabQuest SA, a biotech company focused on the development of antibody-based therapeutic interventions, announced on March 16, 2016 that they have entered into a research collaboration and license agreement pertaining to the development of a new class of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) targeting PD-1.

According to a press announcement from Cellectis, the action of these PD-1 antibodies is to promote the recovery of T-cells from exhaustion through a new mechanism of action. This new class of antibodies differs from approved anti-PD-1 mAbs because they do not block the PD-1-PD-L1 interaction. The anti-PD-1 mAbs have potential uses for multiple indications in immunotherapy, including treatments for a variety of cancers. Cellectis says they plan to use this new class of anti-PD-1 antibodies either in combination therapy with its gene-edited UCART product candidates, as a single-agent, or in combination with other already approved immunotherapy drugs. Cellectis intends to combine these PD-1 mAbs with its gene-edited UCART product candidates to enhance their activity and increase their half-life.

According to Cellectis, in-vitro studies have shown that the combination of these novel PD-1 mAbs with currently approved anti-PD-1 mAbs enhances the recovery of T-cells from exhaustion. Due to their new mechanism of action, these anti-PD-1 mAbs may be used in combination with other PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors, such as nivolumab and pembrolizumab, or other checkpoints inhibitors and immunotherapy approaches for boosting the therapeutic effects of single therapy. This novel class of anti-PD-1 mAbs may represent an alternative therapeutic intervention in those cancer patients with tumors expressing low levels of PD-L1, with respect to the currently approved anti-PD-1 mAbs.

The agreement includes a collaboration phase funded by Cellectis whereby Cellectis and MabQuest will jointly pursue preclinical research on several candidate antibodies; and a clinical development and commercialization phase of the best-selected antibodies, led by Cellectis. Under the agreement, MabQuest has granted an exclusive option to Cellectis. Upon exercise of the option, Cellectis would be granted worldwide exclusive rights over the family of PD-1 antagonist antibodies developed under the collaboration for all fields, and further potential derivatives of these antibodies.

Source: Cellectis

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