Regeneron Takes $100 Million Equity Stake in bluebird bio; To Develop Cancer Cell Therapies

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a Tarrytown, New York-based biopharmaceutical company, and bluebird bio, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based clinical-stage gene-therapy company, have partnered to apply their technology platforms to the discovery, development, and commercialization of immune cell therapies for cancer. Regeneron is making a $100-million equity investment in bluebird bio.

Specifically, the companies will use 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. bluebird bio will contribute its experience in gene transfer and cell therapy. 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, according to information from the company. 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.

The companies 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% over the $150 closing price on August 3, 2018. This approximately $37-million premium will be credited against Regeneron’s initial 50% funding obligation for basic collaboration research, after which the collaborators will fund ongoing research equally. The transaction is subject to preclearance by the US Federal Trade Commission under applicable antitrust laws.

Source: bluebird bio

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