TARRYTOWN, N.Y. and CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) and bluebird bio, Inc. (NASDAQ: BLUE) today announced a collaboration to apply their respective technology platforms to the discovery, development and commercialization of novel immune cell therapies for cancer. The collaborators will specifically leverage Regeneron’s VelociSuite® platform technologies for the discovery and characterization of fully human antibodies as well as T cell receptors (TCRs) directed against tumor-specific proteins and peptides, and bluebird bio will contribute its field-leading expertise in gene transfer and cell therapy.
“Like Regeneron, bluebird is a science-focused company looking to push the limits of what novel technologies can do in drug discovery and development,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron. “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. This collaboration adds yet another dimension to our rapidly advancing portfolio of immuno-oncology candidates and combination approaches.”
“The collaboration with Regeneron complements bluebird bio’s growing immuno-oncology development portfolio, which includes clinical and pre-clinical CAR T and T cell receptor programs,” said Philip Gregory, D.Phil., Chief Scientific Officer of bluebird bio. “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.”
The collaborators have jointly selected six initial targets and will equally share the costs of research and development up to the point of submitting an Investigational New Drug (IND) application. Additional targets may be selected over the five-year research collaboration term. 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, with 50/50 cost and profit sharing. If Regeneron does not opt-in, the company is eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties from bluebird bio on any potential resulting products.
Regeneron will also make a $100 million investment in bluebird bio common stock at a price of $238.10 per share, which represents a premium of 59 percent over the $150 closing price on August 3, 2018. This approximately $37 million premium will be credited against Regeneron’s initial 50 percent funding obligation for basic collaboration research, after which the collaborators will fund ongoing research equally. The transaction is subject to preclearance by the Federal Trade Commission under applicable antitrust laws.
Cell-based immunotherapies such as chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CAR Ts) use human immune cells (typically T cells derived from the patient with cancer) that are modified and returned to the patient to serve as therapeutic agents that specifically target and kill cancer cells. In advanced clinical studies, researchers have shown that modified T cells are highly active therapies in patients with a variety of blood cancers even after other treatment approaches have failed, and there are existing FDA-approved medicines that utilize this approach.
bluebird bio’s technologies use a customized lentiviral vector to modify T cells so that they can recognize tumor-specific proteins expressed by cancer cells and kill them upon engagement. Regeneron’s VelociSuite® technologies, including VelocImmune® and Veloci-T, enable the creation of fully-human antibodies and T cell receptors. These complementary technologies have the potential to expand the types of tumors that modified T cells can safely and effectively target by enabling the T cells to reach both extracellular and intracellular tumor antigens.
About bluebird bio, Inc.
With its lentiviral-based gene therapies, T cell immunotherapy expertise and gene editing capabilities, bluebird bio (NASDAQ: BLUE) has built a pipeline with broad potential application in severe genetic diseases and cancer.
bluebird bio’s gene therapy clinical programs include investigational treatments for cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy, transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia, also known as β-thalassemia major, and severe sickle cell disease.
bluebird bio’s oncology pipeline is built upon the company’s lentiviral gene delivery and T cell engineering, with a focus on developing novel T cell-based immunotherapies, including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR T) and T cell receptor (TCR) therapies. The company’s lead oncology programs are anti-BCMA CAR T programs partnered with Celgene.
bluebird bio’s discovery research programs include utilizing megaTAL/homing endonuclease gene editing technologies with the potential for use across the company’s pipeline.
bluebird bio has operations in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Seattle, Washington; Durham, North Carolina and Zug, Switzerland.
About Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) is a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases. Founded and led for 30 years by physician-scientists, our unique ability to repeatedly and consistently translate science into medicine has led to six FDA-approved treatments and numerous product candidates in development, all of which were homegrown in our laboratories. Our medicines and pipeline are designed to help patients with eye disease, heart disease, allergic and inflammatory diseases, pain, cancer, infectious diseases and rare diseases.
Regeneron is accelerating and improving the traditional drug development process through our proprietary VelociSuite® technologies, including VelocImmune® (a genetically-engineered mouse model that has a genetically-humanized B cell immune system that produces optimized fully-human antibodies) and Veloci-T (a genetically-engineered mouse model that has genetically-engineered T cell immunity). Regeneron scientists are also conducting ambitious research initiatives such as the Regeneron Genetics Center®, which is conducting one of the largest genetics sequencing efforts in the world.
For additional information about the company, please visit www.regeneron.com or follow @Regeneron on Twitter.