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Second child cleared of leukaemia after Cellectis T-cell treatment

Published on 10/05/16 at 08:45am

A targeted T-cell oncology therapy has successfully treated a second baby with aggressive leukaemia who has remained in remission after six months.

Developed by Cellectis, the treatment gained recognition in November with one-year-old Layla cleared of previously incurable leukaemia at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

The UCART19 injection works by adding new genes to healthy donated T-cells. While more time is needed to conclude that both are now cured of the disease, rather than having its progression slowed, the results are nevertheless encouraging.

The unnamed second baby was diagnosed with leukaemia at four weeks old and she was treated with UCART19 in December after failing to respond to other treatments at 16 months.

Andre Choulika, Cellectic CEO, says: “This is not yet statistical proof but we do now have two cases. It shows that the therapy has some potential.

Clinical trials for the treatment are set to begin at the end of the year.

Cellectis’s approach differs from other T-cell therapies in that it uses cells from a healthy donor that could lead to application in numerous patients.

The efficacy of the treatment developed by the French company has led to rumours that the company could be acquired by a larger firm, but Choulika has indicated that he does not wish to follow that route.

He told Reuters: “My game plan is not to be acquired. The company is very well financed and we can go with a very aggressive business plan up to the end of 2018.”

Sean Murray

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