MediGene, bluebird bio: $1 Billion+ Deal
MediGene AG, bluebird bio Partner Up in $1 Billion+ Cancer Immunotherapy Deal
September 29, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
MUNICH – Germany-based MediGene AG (MDGEF.PK) and Cambridge, Mass.-based bluebird bio (BLUE) struck a collaborative deal to develop T cell receptor (TCR) immunotherapies against four targets that could be worth more than $1 billion.
In an announcement this morning, the companies said the collaboration will combine MediGene’s TCR technology with bluebird’s lentiviral-based gene therapies, T cell immunotherapy expertise and gene editing capabilities. The companies said in a statement this morning. The companies remained mum on what those four treatment targets will be.
MediGene’s TCR technology is designed to “arm” a patient’s own T cells with tumor-specific T-cell receptors. The receptor-modified T cells are then able to detect and efficiently kill tumor cells. According to the company, its TCR technology has broader applications than CAR-T therapies, as MediGene’s technology is developed to detect a greater number of potential tumor antigens than other T cell-based immunotherapies.
“We are delighted to collaborate with bluebird bio, a leader in the field of cell and gene therapy, including cancer immunotherapy,” Dolores Schendel, chief executive officer and chief scientific officer of MediGene, said in a statement. “With its T cell immunotherapy expertise and outstanding gene delivery and genome editing capabilities, bluebird bio is an ideal partner for us to jointly discover and develop a new generation of T cell therapeutics to treat unmet oncology indications.”
Under the terms of the agreement, MediGene will be responsible for the generation and delivery of the TCRs using its TCR isolation and characterization platform. Following the collaborative preclinical development, bluebird bio will assume sole responsibility for the clinical development and commercialization of the TCR product candidates, the companies said. Additionally, bluebird will receive an exclusive license for the intellectual property covering the resulting TCRs.
As part of the deal, MediGene will receive an upfront payment of $15 million from bluebird. Additional clinical and commercial milestone payments could be total more than $1 billion for MediGene. Additionally, MediGene will receive R&D funding for all work performed in the collaboration and is eligible for tiered royalty payments on net sales up to a double-digit percentage.
Dave Lemus, chief operating officer for MediGene, said the bluebird deal provides the company with significant capital resources for the short and perhaps, long term.
“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,” Rick Morgan, vice president of immunotherapy at bluebird bio, said in a statement. “This agreement exploits our core expertise in lentiviral gene transfer, genome editing and synthetic biology, and leverages our manufacturing and clinical development capabilities to build a broad, fully integrated immuno-oncology franchise.”
Bluebird’s oncology platform is centered around lentiviral gene delivery and T cell engineering, which includes a focus on developing novel T cell-based immunotherapies, including chimeric antigen receptor and T cell receptor therapies. Bluebird’s lead oncology program is bb2121, an anti-BCMA CAR T program being developed in conjunction with Celgene (CELG). bb2121 is currently being studied in a Phase 1 trial for the treatment of relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.