Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and bluebird bio are teaming up. The companies will combine their expertise in the battle against cancer by leveraging Regeneron’s VelociSuite platform with bluebird’s cell therapy technologies to develop new cell therapies for patients.
The companies will focus on the discovery and development of fully human antibodies, as well as T cell receptors (TCRs) that will be directed against tumor-specific proteins and peptides. Regeneron will combine its VelociSuite platform, which enables the creation of fully-human antibodies and T cell receptors with bluebird’s customized lentiviral technology to target and kill the cancer cells.
Regeneron and bluebird have identified six initial targets they plan to test and said more targets could be selected over the course of the five-year agreement. The two companies will equally share the costs of development and research up until submitting an Investigational New Drug (IND) application. At that point, Regeneron will have the right to opt-in to a co-development/co-commercialization arrangement with a 50/50 cost and profit-sharing agreement. If it does not opt-in, then Regeneron will be eligible for milestone and potential royalty payments.
As part of the deal, Regeneron has agreed to acquire $100 million worth of bluebird’s common stock at $238.10 per share, which represents a premium of 59 percent over the $150 closing price on Aug. 3, the companies said. That investment will be credited against Regeneron’s initial 50 percent funding obligation, the companies added. Investors in bluebird are happy this morning, as shares have climbed more than 5 percent in premarket trading.
Philip Gregory, bluebird’s chief scientific officer, said the collaboration with Regeneron will complement Cambridge, Mass.-based bluebird’s growing immuno-oncology development portfolio. That portfolio includes clinical and pre-clinical CAR T and T cell receptor programs, Gregory said.
“With Regeneron’s proven targeting technologies, in combination with our deep expertise in cell biology and vector technology, as well as clinical experience with leading CAR T cell drug products, we hope to rapidly advance novel cellular therapies with the potential to transform the lives of people with cancer,” Gregory said in a statement.
George D. Yancopolous, Regeneron’s president and chief scientific officer, said the companies are focused on pushing the limits of “what novel technologies can do in drug discovery and development.” He said the collaboration between the companies adds another dimension to the immuno-oncology arsenal against cancer.
“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,” Yancopolous said in a statement.
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