Medical Device Daily International Correspondent And MDDs

Cellectis (Romainville, France) has filed a preliminary prospectus with the French Financial Markets Authority for launch of an initial public offering on the Alternext market of the Paris Euronext stock exchange.

Cellectis is a genome engineering company that uses a technology centered around meganucleases, which it describes as "molecular scissors" consisting of sequence-specific endonucleases with large recognition sites that permit very accurate editing of genetic sequences. Cellectis is developing meganuclease recombination systems (MRS) that combine these molecular scissors with a DNA matrix, making it possible to target a particular gene and modify it in vivo through the cell's natural maintenance and repair system without damaging the rest of the genome.

It says that by developing this technology on an industrial scale for the first time it can insert, modify, modulate or correct in vivo a gene in any living organism with great accuracy and reliability and without the adjunction of foreign genes that are often insufficiently specific and poorly tolerated. The company currently has eight MRSs in development.

Cellectis holds a portfolio of 27 patents, and has filed another 69 patent applications. Since it was founded in 2000, the company has raised a total of €17.5 million ($23.2 million) in two funding rounds completed in 2000 and 2002. Its main investors are AGF Private Equity, BankInvest Biomedical Venture, Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners, Kaminvest Holding, and Odyssée Venture (Paris).

It is engaged in collaborations with 45 biopharmaceutical and crop science companies around the world. Its most recent collaboration was signed last July with Lexicon Genetics (The Woodlands, Texas), which granted Cellectis a worldwide, non-exclusive sublicense for the use of its isogenic DNA technology for homologous recombination in eukaryotic cells by double-stranded break methodology.

In return, Cellectis granted Lexicon an exclusive worldwide license to its technology for the specific replacement or insertion of a gene in a eukaryotic genome. The license applies to the use of Cellectis' technology in combination with internal ribosome entry site (IRES) or isogenic DNA technology in the generation of genetically-modified mice.

Cellectis, based at the Biocitech science and technology park in the Paris suburb of Romainville, currently employs about 40 people.

Varian to pay $30M for Accel Instruments

Varian Medical Systems (Palo Alto, California) reported that has agreed to acquire Accel Instruments (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany), a privately-held supplier of proton therapy systems for cancer treatment and scientific research instruments. Varian said it will acquire 100% of Accel, including its debt, with a payment of about $30 million.

Varian said the acquisition will enable it to offer products for delivering image-guided, intensity modulated proton therapy for selected cancer patients.

"With this acquisition, we can meet the needs of customers who have begun to ask us for proton therapy capabilities that supplement their existing radiotherapy systems," said Tim Guertin, president/CEO of Varian. "This leverages our existing technology in treatment planning, image guidance and cancer informatics and it enables Varian to offer all the products needed for delivering proton therapy. We expect that we can build a several hundred million dollar proton therapy business over time."

"We are excited about the technology and value we see in Accel which has a unique scanning beam technology that is ideal for intensity modulated proton therapy," Guertin added. "Also with Accel's superconducting cyclotron technology, we expect to be able to develop and tailor more affordable proton therapy systems designed for small, single-room centers as well as large, multi-room facilities."

Accel has commissioned its newly developed superconducting medical cyclotron for proton therapy at the Paul Scherer Institute outside Zurich.

Work is nearing completion on another installation at the Rinecker Proton Therapy Center (Munich) and Varian said it hopes to complete commissioning that system this year.

Accel also produces specialty linear accelerators and other physics instruments for research and science applications. Accel has about 250 employees.

Varian projected the acquisition to add revenue of about $30 million in FY07. Based on guidance given at the end of fiscal 2006, management expects that the addition of Accel's operations will reduce earnings per diluted share by about 3% in FY07, be about neutral in FY08 and accretive thereafter.

The business will report to Varian Vice President Lester Boeh, VP of Varian, responsible for managing Varian's portfolio of emerging businesses.

Unlike standard photon radiotherapy beams, which pass all the way through the patient's body, proton therapy beams can be designed to stop and distribute most of their radiation dose at the tumor. This makes it possible to improve certain cancer treatments by protecting more healthy tissue and thus reduce short- and long-term side effects in cases where surrounding healthy tissues are particularly sensitive to radiation.

Proton therapy is not widely available because systems and treatments are many times more expensive than for standard photon radiotherapy. Experts in radiation oncology estimate that about 10% of the patients can benefit from having all or some of their treatment with protons. It is particularly useful in pediatric cases where the patient is still growing and is expected to live for a very long time. It is also useful for treatment of very large tumors, ocular tumors or other tumors adjacent to very sensitive healthy tissue. Today, there are about 30 proton treatment projects in the world either in clinical operation or under construction.

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