bluebird bio forms cancer drug partnership with Celgene

Cambridge biotechnology company bluebird bio announced Thursday the formation of a global collaboration with Celgene Corp. to discover, develop, and commercialize gene therapies for oncology treatments.

“Financial terms of the agreement include an upfront payment and up to $225 million per product in potential option fees and clinical and regulatory milestones,’’ bluebird bio said in a press release. “Bluebird bio also has the right to participate in the development and commercialization of any licensed products resulting from the collaboration through a 50/50 co-development and profit share in the United States in exchange for a reduction of milestones. Royalties would also be paid in regions where there is no profit share including in the United States if bluebird bio declines to exercise their co-development and profit sharing rights.’’

Nick Leschly. Photo taken from bluebird bio’s website.

New Jersey-based Celgene is a global biopharmaceutical company primarily focused on the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases through gene and protein regulation.

The collaboration between bluebird bio and Celgene will focus on applying gene therapy technology to genetically modify a patient’s own T-cells to target and destroy cancer cells, bluebird bio said.

Celgene also entered into a separate collaboration in the CAR T-cell field with the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital, and The Methodist Hospital, Houston. Bluebird bio will be involved in this effort.

“We believe that our recent advances in the industrialization of our gene therapy platform will drive improvements in the potency, purity, efficiency, and scalability of our lentiviral gene therapy programs,’’ bluebird bio chief executive Nick Leschly said in a statement. “These advances provide us with an opportunity to apply our platform, intellectual property, and know-how to the development of additional product candidates in indications such as CAR T-cells for cancer. Celgene is a global leader in oncology and, combined with Baylor’s expertise in the CAR T-cell field, we have created a great opportunity to drive innovation in a new and exciting area.’’

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