Adaptimmune Therapeutics Plc, which has been developing cell therapies to fight cancer, said it will collaborate with Universal Cells Inc. of Seattle in a move that may challenge French rival Cellectis SA.

Like Cellectis, Adaptimmune and Universal Cells will develop so-called allogeneic T-cell therapies that use an off-the-shelf approach that can treat any patient, the two companies said in a statement today. That contrasts with a strategy adopted by biotech companies such as Juno Therapeutics Inc. and Kite Pharma Inc., which are working on customized therapies using cells from patients that can then only be used by those donors. T-cells are white blood cells that attack cancer cells.

Under the terms of the agreement, Universal Cells will grant to Adaptimmune an exclusive worldwide license to use, sell, supply, manufacture, import, and develop products and services based on its technology within the T-cell immunotherapy field. Universal Cells will receive an upfront license and start-up fee of $5.5 million, and is eligible for up to $41 million in milestone payments, the companies said. Universal Cells also stands to receive a profit-share payment for the first product, and royalties on sales of other potential products based on its technology.

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