BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - Cellectis SA signed a license agreement with Nucleis SA granting the latter nonexclusive commercial rights to use the Cellectis homologous recombination process for the specific replacement or insertion of a gene in the receiver genome in mice.

Nucleis, a biotechnology start-up based in Lyon specializing in custom-made mice transgenesis, will use the Cellectis technology for the engineering of mice cell lines and/or the generation of mice as animal models. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Homologous recombination mobilizes the natural cellular DNA maintenance and repair mechanisms present in all living organisms and, among other things, is used for gene knockouts and knock-ins.

Cellectis, which describes itself as a "rational genome engineering company," has developed a technology platform based on the application of the Meganuclease Recombination System to in vivo genome engineering, and said homologous recombination is the technological basis of its expertise.

The company is developing novel meganucleases for genome intervention and provides tools for in vivo, site-directed recombination. It is using that gene targeting technology to develop drugs for treating single-gene diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, Duchenne's disease and familial hypercholesterolemia, as well as viral infections.

Cellectis is a spin-off from the Institut Pasteur, a not-for-profit medical research establishment, from which much of its core technology is licensed. The company was founded in December 1999 and has raised a total of €20 million in two funding rounds.