BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - Cellectis SA signed a licensing agreement with the Lithuanian company Fermentas International Inc., granting the latter a nonexclusive worldwide license for the manufacture and commercialization of Cellectis' endonuclease I-Sce1.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Cellectis' business development manager, Bruno Brisson, told BioWorld International that the deal provides only for royalties on sales of the product.

I-Sce1, a model homing endonuclease, Cellectis said, is the most widely used for research and genome engineering. The Paris-based company describes I-Sce1 as the "gold standard for meganuclease site-directed, induced recombination," adding that it has been used in bacteria, yeast, mammalian cells, fish, worm, flies and plants.

Fermentas, which is based in Vilnius, is a producer and supplier of molecular biologicals, including restriction endonucleases, and supplies more than 300 products to the international biopharmaceutical research community. The company's manufacturing facilities are certified ISO9001 and IS014001, and Cellectis says Fermentas' commercial preparation of I-Sce1 complies with "strict quality-control system requirements for stability and reproducibility," adding that it is "especially suitable for micro-injection experiments."

Fermentas has sales offices in the U.S., Canada and Germany. As a result of the agreement, researchers can order I-Sce1 directly with Fermentas.

Brisson said Cellectis had no particular expectations regarding commercial sales of I-Sce1 or the revenues it might derive from the deal. The company's main concern was to make the product more available, which required industrial-scale manufacturing capability.

Cellectis, a spin-off from the Institut Pasteur, has developed a technology platform based on the application of the Meganuclease Recombination System to in vivo genome engineering. It is developing custom-made meganucleases that can target a DNA break in vivo and thus constitute an enabling technology for commercial applications in human therapeutics, drug discovery, agriculture and industrial biotechnology.

Its in-house research is devoted to human health, where it is using its gene targeting technology to discover and develop therapeutics for single-gene diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Duchenne's disease and familial hypercholesterolemia, as well as viral infections. The company was founded in December 1999 and has raised a total of €20 million in two funding rounds. It employs 35 people.