Regeneron, bluebird bio ink deal to develop immune cell therapies for cancer

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and bluebird bio entered a collaboration to develop and commercialise immune cell therapies for cancer, the companies reported Monday. As part of the deal, Regeneron will make a $100 million investment in bluebird bio at a price of $238.10 per share, which represents a premium of 59 percent over the company's closing share price on August 3.  

"We believe that the tremendous synergies between Regeneron's proven technologies and bluebird's toolbox of advanced cell and gene therapy technologies create a promising opportunity to help people with cancer by developing innovative new treatments," commented Regeneron chief scientific officer George Yancopoulos.  

Regeneron and bluebird bio have jointly selected six initial targets and will equally share the costs of R&D up to the point of submitting an investigational new drug (IND) application. The companies noted further targets may be selected over the five-year research term. The drugmakers added that when an IND is submitted for a potential cell therapy product, Regeneron will have the right to opt-in to a co-development and co-commercialisation arrangement for certain collaboration targets, with 50/50 cost and profit sharing. Meanwhile, if Regeneron elects to not exercise its option, the drugmaker will be eligible for milestone payments and royalties from bluebird bio on sales of the commercialised product.

The drugmakers explained that bluebird bio's technologies utilise a customised lentiviral vector to modify T cells to permit them to recognise tumour-specific proteins expressed by cancer cells and ablate them upon engagement. In addition, Regeneron's VelociSuite technologies facilitate the creation of human antibodies and T cell receptors. The companies noted these technologies could expand the types of tumours that could be targeted by modified T cells.  

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