Cellectis (CLLS) a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company whose mission reads that it's "dedicated to providing life-saving UCART product candidates to address unmet needs for multiple cancers." With over 20 years of expertise in gene editing, the company has been in deep research to harness the power of the immune system in order to target and eradicate cancer cells utilizing its gene-editing technology TALEN and pioneering electroporation system PulseAgile.
As gene editing becomes a more pronounced medical practice, the future for companies like Cellectis, as well as some peers in the practice like Crispr Therapeutics (CRSP) or Editas Medicine (EDIT), may become some of the new large biotech firms. Investors already are seeing the potential, especially in those competitors. CLLS has risen 50% since May 1 with the full market recovery, and about 5% since Jan. 1; though it's done significantly from all-time highs.
Now may be the time to buy Cellectis shares though as good news has continued to stream in.
Cellectis Publishes Recent Study
Cellectis is developing a unique allogeneic approach for CAR-T immunotherapies in oncology. In a recent publication in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, it revealed their research on innovative and easy-to-implement procedures that will streamline the manufacturing of allogeneic off-the-shelf and ready-to-use gene-edited CAR T-cells to treat cancer patients.
The authors, Prof. Stéphane Depil, Dr. Philippe Duchateau, Prof. Stephan Grupp, Prof. Ghulam Mufti, and Dr. Laurent Poirot, reviewed the opportunities and challenges presented by universal allogeneic CAR T-cell therapies, such as the potential of taking T-cells from a healthy donor instead of using patient-derived cells and the challenge that graft-versus-host-disease (GvHD) could potentially pose during treatment.
The methodology defines a novel non-mechanical purification strategy to generate TCRαβ negative (allogeneic) cells for CAR T-cell therapies. They were able to program these cells to self-eliminate the remaining TCR+ cell population and obtained an ultrapure TCRαβ(-) population (up to 99.9%) towards the end of the CAR-T production.
New Chief Medical Officer Sworn In
Cellectis’ New-York-based innovation team is headed by Alexandre Juillerat, Ph.D. They are constantly at the forefront of pioneered research, inventing and generating robust, first-in-class allogeneic CAR T-cell product candidates that address multiple unmet cancer needs. The team also was recently joined by Dr. Carrie Brownstein as the new Chief Medical Officer.
According to Dr. André Choulika, Cellectis’ chairman and CEO, they have enrolled patients throughout their three Phase 1 dose-escalation trial and advanced preclinical programs in the first quarter of 2020. They also are on schedule with the construction of their in-house 14,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Paris, France, and 82,000 square foot commercial-scale manufacturing facility in Raleigh, North Carolina. Both facilities are expected to go live in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
More Collaboration Underway
Cellectis also declared that they granted Servier an expanded exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize, either directly or through its US sublicensee, Allogene Therapeutics, all next-generation gene-edited allogeneic CAR T-cell products focusing on CD19, including rights to UCART19/ALLO-501 and ALLO-501A. The company also has regained exclusive control over the five undisclosed allogeneic CAR T-cell targets previously covered by the initial agreement. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also granted them a new patent covering methods of preparing allogeneic T-cells for immunotherapy with CRISPR-Cas9 technology.
Books Look Healthy
As of March 31, 2020, Cellectis, including Calyxt, Inc. of which it has 68.8% shares of stocks, had $351 million in consolidated cash, cash equivalents, current financial assets, and restricted cash. Consolidated revenues and other income were $52 million, consolidated cost of revenues were $5 million, consolidated R&D expenses were $21 million, consolidated SG&A expenses were $12 million, consolidated net income attributable to shareholders of Cellectis was $20 million.
Unlike other upstart biotech firms, Cellectis does not appear to be burning through cash reserves, and even if it were it has significant cash on hand to sustain itself. If the T Cell therapy can grow its practical application, the sky is the limit on the technology for healthcare purposes. Cellectis revenue could see upwards of 10x in years to come. As always, biotech buys have inherent risk but come with strong upside like this.
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Disclosure: I am/we are long CLLS, CRSP. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.