French biotech Cellectis takes stake in Mayflower-backed startup Primera

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(Reuters) - French biotech Cellectis said on Thursday it will take a 19% stake in the gene-editing technology startup Primera Therapeutics, launched by the private firm Mayflower Bioventures.

Cellectis, which gets a seat on Primera's board, will collaborate with Primera on the development of therapies for mitochondrial diseases, a group of genetic disorders.

Under terms of the deal, if Primera chooses to exclusively license up to five co-developed therapies from Cellectis, it will be eligible to get up to $750 million in milestone payments.

Primera will also then be eligible to receive high single-digit royalty payments on the sales of these therapies developed under the partnership.

Earlier this year, the non-profit Mayo Clinic and private firm Hibiscus Bioventures jointly formed Mayflower Bioventures, a startup program to help build and grow new businesses in the gene and cell therapy industry.

Primera, which is the first start up to be launched by Mayflower, aims to focus on developing gene therapies that address the root cause of mitochondrial diseases, for which there are currently no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment options.

Mitochondrial diseases are caused by genetic mutations in the mitochondria, the cell structures responsible for producing energy. These are among the most common inherited conditions that cause neurologic impairment and impact about 1 in every 4,300 individuals in the United States, according to data from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)