Bluebird flies into TCR deal with Medigene
- Bluebird Bio and German biotech Medigene have tied the knot on a T-cell receptor (TCR) alliance, the companies announced Thursday. Under the deal, Medigene will generate TCR candidates against four targets, which Bluebird will develop out of preclinical stages.
- Medigene will receive $15 million upfront and is eligible for a wide range of milestone payments which could push the total deal value over $1 billion. Bluebird will also finance all R&D work performed in the collaboration.
- Bluebird Bio recently began enrolling for a Phase 3 trial of its LentiGlobin gene therapy, adding a key improvement to its manufacturing process for manufacturing the hematopoietic stem cells used.
TCR-based drugs, which can target a number of different tumor antigens, have driven a number of major partnerships recently, headlined by the $1 billion deal between Celgene and Juno Therapeutics. That agreement, which focuses on both CAR-T and TCR immunotherapies, will run for 10 years.
This isn't the first TCR partnership for Bluebird Bio. Last year the Cambridge-based company struck a deal with Kite Pharmaceuticals to develop TCR therapeutics against HPV-related cancers, using Kite's pipeline and Bluebird's gene editing technology.
Thursday's deal is Medigene's first for its TCR technology, however and gives the company early validation of its science and a financial boost.
An investigator-initiated Phase 1 clinical trial with Medigene participation is expected to begin sometime in 2017, and Medigene currently plans to launch its own TCR studies in both 2017 and 2018.
“Medigene’s proprietary technology to generate highly active natural TCRs makes them an ideal partner, enabling us to broaden our pipeline with TCR-based product candidates against four new targets and continue to build our leadership in immuno-oncology,” said Rick Morgan, vice president of immunotherapy at Bluebird Bio.
Jefferies' analysts see the diversification of Bluebird's pipeline and the leveraging of its technology platforms as a positive thing, particularly given the risk of failure as the TCR and CAR-T markets mature.
- Bluebird Bio Statement
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