Life sciences: Bpifrance supports Sight Again and Cellectis

Bpifrance, as an operator of the PIA, allocates €18.5mn to Sight Againt collaborative project developed by GenSight Biologics, Pixium Vision and Voir et Entendre foundation, whereas Cellectis, the main shareholder of which is Bpifrance, announces its coming IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.

EnterpriseResearch and development

Sight Again , a collaborative project with an overall budget of €47mn, aims to restore the sight of patients suffering from pigmentary retinopathy at various stages of the illness. Bpifrance is funding Sight Again with €18.5mn over 5 years as part of the Programme of Investments for the future (PIA).

Coordinated by GenSight Biologics, Sight Again is working to develop two complementary products: an optogenetic gene therapy product and a vision restoration system involving a retinal implant. Though different in terms of their technologies and targeting separate stages of the illness, these two approaches will use a common visual interface.

The PIA’s collaborative projects are intended to structure industrial sectors or to help new ones to emerge. By financing ambitious programmes, they strengthen the positions of French companies within promising markets and, more broadly, the economic positioning of a range of companies, by confirming or building lasting collaborative relationship between companies, service and research institutions.

Bpifrance has already made an equity investment in two of the project’s partners: GenSight Biologics in 2013 via the Innovative biotherapies and rare illnesses fund (managed as part of the PIA) and Pixium Vision, in 2013 via an equity interest by the InnoBio fund and in 2014 by Large Venture fund, at the time of its IPO.

Moreover, Cellectis, one of the worldwide leaders in genome engineering, on 8 January announced its upcoming IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. The date, number of shares and offering price have not yet been determined.

Bpifrance is Cellectis’ leading shareholder. On 7 January, after having obtained a major patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (Upsto)*, the company’s share price increased by more than 26%.

Cellectis’ know-how has to do with the arming and genetic programming of T lymphocytes involved in the immune system. This immunotherapy technology is a promising avenue in the fight against cancer.


* American patent and trademark office

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