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Celgene enters 10-year $1 billion pact with Juno

Published on 30/06/15 at 09:54am
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Celgene just recently bought Quanticel Pharmaceuticals to aid cancer drug discovery

Celgene has invested $1 billion into Juno Therapeutics as part of a 10-year partnership aiming to study cures for cancer and autoimmune diseases.

The two companies will leverage T cell therapeutic strategies to develop treatments for patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases with an initial focus on Chimeric Antigen Receptor Technology (CAR-T) and T Cell Receptor (TCR) technologies.

Car-T therapy involves removing a cancer patient’s white blood cells, re-engineering them in a lab to encourage them to destroy tumours – and then reintroducing them back into the patient.

Celgene will also be paying an upfront payment of $150m in exchange for the rights to become the commercial partner on a range of Juno’s products.

It appears to be going all out in cancer drug discovery, having just recently laid down $485 million to buy Quanticel Pharmaceuticals in order to increase its efforts in this area.

But for this deal, Bob Hugin who is the chairman and chief executive of Celgene, says: "This transaction strengthens Celgene's position in the emerging and transformative area of immuno-oncology."

"Juno has assembled world class experts and built impressive capabilities and technologies in the areas of T cell biology and cellular therapy; we believe this long-term collaboration enhances the potential of both companies to deliver transformational therapies to patients with significant unmet medical needs,” Hugin adds.

In a conference call to discuss the pact, the biotech giants said they anticipate potential product approvals in 2020. 

Under the terms of the collaboration Celgene has the option to commercialise Juno's oncology and cell therapy auto-immune product candidates, including its CD19 and CD22 directed CAR-T candidates. However B-Cell Maturation Antigen is excluded as a target in this partnership.

"Celgene is the ideal partner for Juno to help us realise the full potential of our science and clinical research while maintaining the independence we, our employees, partners, and investors believe is so critical for true innovation," says Hans Bishop, chief executive of Juno.  

Juno will have the option to enter into a co-development and co-commercialisation agreement on certain Celgene-originated development candidates that target T Cells. 

Both firms expect to complete the transaction during the third quarter of this year.

Brett Wells

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