CELLforCURE will produce innovative cancer CAR-T treatments for Novartis

Novartis announces that its innovative cancer CAR-T treatments will be produced in Les Ulis (Essonne), proof of its commitment to France

  • Innovative CAR-T cell therapies will be manufactured at CELLforCURE bioproduction facility in Les Ulis (Essonne) in France. Manufacturing could start in 2019 following technology transfer.
  • This new industrial facility complements existing manufacturing facilities in the US and in Europe
  • Novartis decision to manufacture in France reflects the Group’s confidence in France and its high level of attractiveness

Rueil-Malmaison, July 10, 2018 – Novartis announced today that it had signed an agreement with CELLforCURE to produce innovative cancer treatments known as CAR-T therapies (“chimeric antigen receptor T-cells”) at the bioproduction site based in Les Ulis (Essonne). Production could start in 2019 following transfer of Novartis innovative manufacturing technology to CELLforCURE.

The choice to invest in France reflects Novartis’ long-term commitment to the country, in recognition of its attractiveness: its vibrant business environment, high academic standards and the renowned expertise of its scientific community. Over the period between 2015-2019, Novartis has invested over 900 million euros ranging from the expansion of its cutting-edge biotechnology centre in Huningue (Alsace), the construction of a new head office building in Rueil-Malmaison (Ile-de-France), as well as innovative research and development projects.

The decision to manufacture innovative CAR-T therapies in commercial and clinical phases in France delivers on the Group’s global supply strategy. These therapies are fully in line with Novartis’ strategic gene therapy pipeline bringing transformative innovation in areas of high unmet medical needs.

Frédéric Collet, President of Novartis France commented, “Today’s announcement brings immense hope to those suffering from aggressive forms of blood cancer for which there are currently only limited therapeutic options. What’s more, the decision by Novartis to choose France is yet another example of the confidence the Group has placed in France and attests to its attractiveness. This is a great source of pride to all of us. It confirms our role as a major healthcare player in France with a presence in R&D, commercial and manufacturing activities.”

 CELLforCURE is a LFB group company specializing in innovative therapy drugs. CELLforCURE’s industrial platform located in Les Ulis (Essonne-France) is one of the first and largest in Europe for the production of cell and gene therapy drugs. Established as a pharmaceutical company since 2013, CELLforCURE, operates a CDMO (Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization). The company obtained two Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certificates from ANSM in 2016 for the production of innovative experimental and commercial therapy drugs.

CELLforCURE will be responsible for producing CAR-T therapies which are considered the embodiment of personalized medicine. Unlike traditional treatments each dose is tailored individually to, and manufactured for, each patient using their own blood cells.

The manufacturing process used by CELLforCURE in France will be the same pioneering technology and sophisticated process developed by Novartis on its Morris Plain site (USA).

To produce CAR-T cells, a patients’ T-cells (white blood cells called lymphocytes) are collected using a specialized procedure known as “leukapheresis” and then frozen in a process called cryopreservation. The cells will then be transferred to the Les Ulis site where experts will modify the cells so that they can recognize specific receptors that are part of cancer cells. Following safety and quality testing, the patient’s cells will be infused back into the hospitalized patient. In responding patients, the reprogrammed cells multiply to identify and destroy tumor cells which were previously unrecognizable for the immune system.

Léopold Bertéa, CEO of CELLforCURE said “CELLforCURE relies in France on a highly experienced pharmaceutical and technical team in this very specialized area that is the production of CAR-T. We are very proud to provide a real value for enabling patients to access this groundbreaking class of therapies.

About Novartis
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic and biosimilar pharmaceuticals and eye care. Novartis has leading positions globally in each of these areas. In 2017, the Group achieved net sales of USD 49.1 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.0 billion. Novartis Group companies employ approximately 124,000 full-time-equivalent associates. Novartis products are sold in approximately 155 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.