E Bluebird Bio Collaborates With Five Prime Therapeutics On Cell Therapy Drugs

On May 26, 2015 Bluebird Bio (BLUE) announced a collaboration deal with Five Prime Therapeutics (FPRX)  to develop Chimeric antigen Receptor T Cell Therapy -- CAR-T -- which is a targeted form of immunotherapy. According to the deal Bluebird Bio will supply its CAR-T technology and Five Prime will supply its proprietary human antibodies. 

Both companies are developing this combo to initially target hematological malignancies and solid tumors. For the moment the first target hasn't been chosen but both companies are in the process of deciding upon the best initial target. Five Prime will receive an upfront payment of $1.5 million in addition for the possibility to obtain up to $130 million dollars per licensed product.

This means that each product must meet certain development, regulatory, and commercial milestones. Five Prime will also be eligible to received tiered royalties on product sales. Bluebird bio will be responsible for all the clinical funding required for the trials in addition to regulatory and commercial activities. 

This collaboration deal comes less than a week after Bluebird Bio reported preliminary positive results in patients with sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia -- blood disorders --  for its other gene therapy portfolio. Bluebird Bio is now looking to expand its oncology portfolio, and leveraging its CAR-T immunotherapy product together with potent antibodies from Five Prime is a deal that makes sense. CAR-T technology is a form of immunotherapy in which the company genetically modifies a patient's T-cells to attack cancerous cells in the patient's body. 

This isn't the first CAR-T collaboration Bluebird Bio has made. Back in 2013 the company established a collaboration deal with Celgene (CELG) to also develop oncology products. According to that deal Bluebird Bio will be responsible for taking all such products through phase 1 clinical development, at which point Celgene has the option to license any of these products that reach phase 1 if it chooses to do so. 

Disclosure: No positions mentioned.

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