French Biotech Gets a CRISPR Patent for CAR-T Research

Update (16/02/2018):

On top of the European patent it got last July, Cellectis now also has two US patents to use CRISPR technology to make CAR-T cells.

Cellectis has said it will offer licenses to companies that want to use CRISPR gene editing in T cells. Not just for inserting CAR antigens, but also other editions useful for the development of immunotherapies, such as removing checkpoint inhibitor or histocompatibility genes, or engineering drug resistance into the T cells. 


Originally published on  25/07/2017

The European Patent Office has granted Cellectis the first patent to use CRISPR technology in T cells, a technology the company wants to leverage to develop CAR-T therapies for cancer. 

CRISPR gene editing is considered one of the biggest discoveries of the century, which has led to a fierce battle over its IPCellectis has managed to take control of the technology for applications in another hot area, CAR-T, which is showing astonishing potential in the fight against cancer.

The new European patent granted to Cellectis covers the use of RNA-guided endonucleases in primary T cells, which includes both the Cas9 and Cpf1 versions of CRISPR. The patent will protect the application of CRISPR gene editing to T cell research until 2034, meaning every other company doing the same will need a license from Cellectis from now on.

Cellectis CRISPR patent CAR-T

Cellectis uses TALEN technology instead of CRISPR to manufacture its CAR-T cells, given it is the most accurate to this date. However, CRISPR has a great advantage for research. As David Sourdive, co-founder of the company, told us, “It’s a very easy-to-use technology.” That makes it perfect for rapid screening in early research, whereas the development of a product can be then performed using the more precise TALEN technology.

Cellectis has licensed its CAR-T candidate UCART19, now in Phase I against acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), to Servier and Pfizer. A second program, wholly owned by the French biotech, is UCART123, the first and so far the only “off-the-shelf” CAR-T therapy to enter clinical trials in human. As opposed to more advanced CAR-Ts, which are produced individually from the patient’s own cells, the “off-the shelf” feature could make the cancer treatment faster, cheaper and accessible to a wider patient population. And with the new CRISPR patent, Cellectis could significantly boost its ability to develop ever better versions of the treatment.

Images via Natali_Mis, cgstock / Shutterstock



Support good journalism, subscribe to Labiotech Insider

Labiotech Insider

If you liked this post and want to read more good journalism, support us by joining Labiotech Insider. Our Insider membership gives you access to exclusive content and other advantages.