Health : Cellectis
In a world medical breakthrough, a one year old baby girl close to dying from cancer was cured by novel cell therapy developed by French company CELLECTIS. The girl was dying from leukemia at a London hospital after conventional treatment including chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant had failed. In a last-ditch effort to save the baby, the hospital obtained permission to use CELLECTIS’s genome editing experimental technique up to now unused on a human being. The successful treatment is a landmark in gene therapy technology for leukemia and other cancers.
In previous versions of cell therapy used by other drug makers, patient’s T-cells, which are essential for the body’s immune system, were genetically modified so that they could attack cancer cells. This approach is custom made for individual patients and therefore very expensive and accessible only to few people.
What CELLECTIS has done is to use T-cells from a healthy donor which was also modified to target leukemia cells. CELLECTIS then used genome editing to remove a gene from the transplanted T-cells to prevent them from attacking the patient’s own healthy tissues.
The French company’s treatment which is not personalized is much cheaper than previous cell therapies as the viral recombination can be manufactured, for each different type of leukemia, in hundreds of thousands and kept refrigerated as an off-the-shelf product ready to be injected.
Doctor André Choulika, the CEO of CELLECTIS who co-founded the company with David Sourdive in 1999, plans to start full clinical trials for the therapy in 2016. The company is listed on Euronext in Paris and on the NASDAQ in New York.
Sources : nytimes.com, newscientist.com, lemonde.fr
Video Sources : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge2ntwOOyKI
Online publishing, January 30th, 2016