Regeneron and Bluebird Bio in Cancer Therapy Pact
Specifically, they will leverage Regeneron’s VelociSuite platform for the discovery and characterization of fully human antibodies as well as T cell receptors (TCRs) directed against tumor-specific proteins and peptides. Bluebird bio will contribute its expertise in gene transfer and cell therapy.
“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,” said George Yancopoulos, Regeneron’s president and chief scientific officer. “This collaboration adds yet another dimension to our rapidly advancing portfolio of immuno-oncology candidates and combination approaches."
The companies have jointly selected six initial targets and will share equally the costs of research and development up to the point of submitting an Investigational New Drug (IND) application. They can also select additional targets over the five-year collaboration program.
When an IND is submitted for a potential cell therapy product, Regeneron will have the right to opt-in to a co-development/co-commercialization arrangement for certain collaboration targets, on a 50:50 cost and profit-sharing basis. Should Regeneron not opt-in, it will be eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties from bluebird bio on any potential resulting products.
Regeneron will invest $100 million in bluebird bio common stock, at a price of $238.10 per share. This represents a 59% premium of the closing price of $150 on Aug. 3. As a result, the premium totaling about $37 million will be credited against Regeneron’s initial 50% funding obligation for basic collaboration research, after which the partners will fund ongoing research equally.
The collaboration follows another announced by bluebird bio in March.
This pact was with Celgene to co-develop and co-promote bb2121, an investigational anti-B-cell maturation antigen chimeric anigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy for potentially treating patients in the US with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.
Cell-based immunotherapies such as (CAR Ts) use human immune cells (typically T cells derived from the patient with cancer), which are modified and returned to the patient to serve as therapeutic agents that specifically target and kill cancer cells.