Cellectis and MabQuest Immunotherapy Partnership on New Class of PD-1 Antagonist Monoclonal Antibodies


Cellectis (France based biopharmaceutical company) and MabQuest SA (a biotech company focused on the development of antibody-based therapeutic interventions) partnered together to develop immunotherapies based on novel PD 1 antagonist monoclonal antibodies (mABs).

The PD-1 antibodies promote the recovery of T cells from exhaustion by a new mechanism of action. These PD-1 antibodies differ from the recently approved anti-PD-1 mABs as they do not block the PD-1-PD-L1 interaction. The new PD-1 antibodies will be investigated for multiple indications in immunotherapy including treatments for variety of cancer.

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Figure 1. PD-1 in T-cell activation, exhaustion, and effector function (credit: Pubmed Central, Cancer Med. 2013 Oct; 2(5): 662–673.)

Cellectis is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of immunotherapies based on CAR-T cells. Therefore, the company decided to use the new class of anti PD-1 antibodies either in combination with its gene edited CAR-T cells (UCART) candidates or single agent or in combination with the already established immunotherapy drugs.

The in vitro studies have opened many possibilities for the new PD-1 antibodies to be utilized as immunotherapy. The combination of these new class of PD-1 mABs with recently approved anti-PD-1 mABs enhances the recovery of T-cells from exhaustion.These anti- PD-1 mABs may be used in combination with other PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors like Nivolumab and Pembrolizumab or other checkpoint inhibitors and immunotherapy approaches to enhance the therapeutic effects of single therapy due to their novel mechanism of action. These anti-PD-1 mAbs may be assessed as an alternative and effective therapeutic intervention in those cancer patients with tumors expressing low levels of PD-L1, compared to the recently approved anti-PD-1 mAbs.

According to the agreement, a part of the collaboration will be funded by Cellectis. Preclinical research on several candidate antibodies will be jointly funded by Cellectis and MabQuest. Finally the clinical development and commercialization phase of the best selected candidates will be financed by Cellectis. MabQuest has also opened an option for Cellectis which can fetch the company, worldwide exclusive rights over the class of PD-1 antagonist antibodies developed under their collaboration as well as their future potential derivatives.

We hope this partnership will be a successful venture for both the companies which will provide some novel immunotherapies for cancer treatment.

Featured image credit: Monoclonal antibodies © promotive (Stock Photo ID: 22716206)

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