A Day After Second-Quarter Report, Cellectis Appoints New SVP and Deputy CMO
New York and Paris-based Cellectis announced it had appointed Stefan Scherer to the role of senior vice president Clinical Development and deputy chief medical officer. This is only a day after the company gave a necessarily pipeline-heavy update on its second quarter.
Cellectis is a clinical-stage biopharma company focused on developing immunotherapies based on gene-edited allogeneic CAR-T cells. In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an amendment to the company’s protocol for the Phase I clinical trial of UCART123 in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The amendment allows for an immediate four-times increase of current dose levels 1, 2 and 3. The treatment interval was also shortened from 42 days to 28 days between the first two patients at each new dose tested, and then to 14 days for the subsequent patients. This also allows for a potential second infusion of UCART123. The MD Anderson Cancer Center was also added as a new clinical site for the study in addition to Weill Cornell Medical Center.
In June, the FDA approved the company’s Investigational New Drug (IND) application to start a Phase trial for UCART22, Cellectis’ second wholly controlled TALEN gene-edited product candidate to treat B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). And in April, Allogene Therapeutics, a new biotech company co-founded by Arie Belldegrun and David Chang, the former chief executive officer and chief medical officer of Kite Pharma, respectively, entered into an asset contribution deal with Pfizer. The deal is for Allogene to buy Pfizer’s portfolio of allogeneic CAR-T therapies, including the Research Collaboration and License Agreement from June 17, 2014, between Pfizer and Cellectis.
In terms of funds, the company reported $9 million in revenue for the second quarter of 2018, up from $8.3 million in the same quarter in 2017. Total operating expenses for the second quarter this year was $30 million, up from $28.8 million in the same quarter last year.
Cellectis reports that as of June 30, 2018, it had $491.1 million in total cash, cash equivalents and current financial assets. The company believes it will be enough to fund operations until 2022.
Stefan Scherer joins Cellectis from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, where he was the head of Early Development, Strategy and Innovation for U.S. Oncology. At Novartis, he oversaw the strategic direction and management of Novartis’ immuno-oncology and targeted therapy portfolios. Prior to Novartis, he was chief medical officer at Biocartis AS in Switzerland.
“Stefan’s deep medical expertise, strong track record of alliance- and relationship-building and previous C-level experience, all position him to make an immediate impact on the development and long-term strategic planning for Cellectis’ innovative product portfolio,” said Andre Choulika, Cellectis’ chief executive officer, in a statement. “As we continue to evolve our efforts to accelerate the access to patients of our off-the-shelf, gene-edited CAR T-cell product candidates, Stefan will be a key driver in the advancement of our product pipeline and programs overall.”
Currently, approved CAR-T products are uniquely engineered for individual patients, a time-consuming, expensive and laborious process. Cellectis’ hopes their CAR-T products will not require the engineering, which can add several weeks to the treatment process and require shipping patients’ cells to and from the companies’ laboratories to engineer the cells.