Is Pfizer eyeing the CAR-T bandwagon? Rumours of €1.5bn takeover talks with Cellectis

By Gareth Macdonald contact

- Last updated on GMT

Rumours Pfizer is in takeover talks with Cellectis
Rumours Pfizer is in takeover talks with Cellectis

Related tags: Biotechnology, Pfizer

CRISPR patent claimant Cellectis has declined to comment on rumours US drug giant Pfizer is in talks about a €1.5bn takeover.

The Financial Times reported that Pfizer was in negotiations with the French biotech firm last night, citing two unnamed people “familiar with the situation” as the source of the information.

Pfizer and Cellectis declined to comment when contacted by BioPharma-reporter.com.

The US drug firm acquired approximately 10% of Cellectis in June last year when they partnered to develop immunotherapies based on the latter’s chimeric antigen receptor T-Cell (Cart-T).

The deal gave Pfizer exclusive rights to pursue development and commercialization of CAR-T therapies, in  oncology

Pfizer's growing interest in immunotherapy - illustrated by deals with iTeos​ and Merck KGaA​ last year -  was cited by various media outlets​ as a potential motivation for the rumoured takeover talks.

CRISPR/Cas9

But a Pfizer takeover of Cellectis could have other implications for the Biopharmaceutical sector if Cellectis’ claim to the increasingly popular CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technologyproves correct.

The French biotech staked its claim in January​, arguing that US patent No. 8,921,332​ licensed from Boston Children’s Hospital and Institut Pasteur gave it ownership of a wide range of gene editing techniques, including CRISPR.

Others disagree with Cellectis. Sangamo BioSciences told us it does ““not believe that this patent reads on or will have any impact on” ​its zinc-finger nuclease editing technology.

Similarly, Precision BioSciences, which works with meganucleases, said its IP is not covered by the Cellectis patent.

Big Pharma 

CRISPR/Cas9 has been adopted by a number of Pfizer's Big Pharma rivals.

AstraZeneca​ and Novartis​ have each announcing investments in the gene editing technology in the past 12 months.

Services companies like Horizon Discovery​ and tech companies like Thermo Fisher​ have also been using CRISPR/Cas9.

The latter firm licensed rights to use Cellectis IP in its transcription activator-like effector-nuclease (TALE) range of gene cutting enzymes.

Related topics: Bio Developments, Cell lines

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