Drug Development

Celyad chief blasts Cellectis’ CEO Choulika, claiming he lied about CAR-T patent

Celyad CEO Christian Homsy

Celyad CEO Christian Homsy

Rivalries between biotech CEOs are nothing new. But Celyad $CYAD CEO Christian Homsy took the usual sparring that occasionally occurs between chief execs to a whole new level today, claiming that Cellectis’ often outspoken helmsman lied recently about one of their patents related to off-the-shelf CAR-T treatments.

Celyad says Cellectis $CLLS CEO André Choulika stated at a shareholders meeting a few days ago that claim one to their Patent N° 9,181,527 was invalidated by the US patent office, which they say is “false and misleading.”

Cellectis CEO Andre Choulika

Cellectis CEO Andre Choulika

But Cellectis isn’t backing away quietly from this fight. In a response to a query from me, the company sent the patent office’s response to the patent challenge, clearly indicating that claim 1 was rejected. “Claim one is rejected under 35 USC 103(a) as being unpatentable over Imai and Mineno.” And it goes on to review previous work done on immunotherapies related to Claim 1.

Cellectis, though, only referred me to the patent office document, dated February 10, which you can see for yourself here.

Celyad says this all started when an anonymous party asked for a re-examination of the claim last fall, which the patent office is following up on. The cell engineering group then blasted the high-profile Choulika — a scientist with strong opinions about the potential of his company in cell therapies — and Cellectis for misrepresenting the case. Homsy’s statement:

“We regret inappropriate and misleading comments have been made concerning our patent in a public forum. We believe the comments are defamatory and baseless. The process around our patent is clear and we remain confident in our position. Celyad has continuously stated that its objective is to help bring treatment options to patients. We have therefore offered our competitors access to this patent and will continue to do so.”

Celyad was in the spotlight last summer when its stem cell therapy for heart failure failed a key study. Then a few days later Japan’s Ono tied the knot with the Belgian biotech on its CAR-T tech for cancer.

Celyad shares closed down 3.6% on Thursday.


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