French-biotech Cellectis announced a research collaboration agreement with AstraZeneca to jointly develop cell and gene therapy products in areas of high unmet medical need, including oncology, immunology and rare diseases.
The agreement, worth up to $245 million, will allow AstraZeneca access to Cellectis’ gene editing technologies and manufacturing capabilities for the potential development of up to 10 candidate products.
Cellectis will receive an upfront payment of $25 million with eligibility for future milestone payments, ranging from $70 million to $220 million for each of the candidate products along with tiered royalties. AstraZeneca will own approximately 22% of the share capital and 21% of the voting rights of the company with an initial equity investment of $80 million in the company.
The two also revealed that an additional equity investment of $140 million is being contemplated by AstraZeneca, and if confirmed, would increase AstraZeneca's ownership to 44% of the share capital and 30% of the voting rights.
Cellectis intends to use the proceeds to develop gene editing tools, cover research and development expenses and for general corporate purposes, all while retaining ownership of clinical-stage assets.
The move comes a few months after Cellectis revealed that after years of struggling to get its CAR-T cell therapy UCARTCS1 out of trials, it planned to scrap the program altogether. With its targeted completion dates pushed back twice, Cellectis says it would have had to "invest meaningful amount of resources" to accelerate enrollment in the relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma study.