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Medigene and bluebird bio expand immunotherapy partnership to $1.5bn

Published on 14/05/18 at 11:02am

Medigene has announced that it has bolstered the existing partnership it has in place with US firm bluebird bio, originally signed in 2016, bringing the total potential value of the deal to $1.5 billion.

The expansion of the deal will mean that the total number of projects between the two firms will rise to six, meaning Medigene will receive an additional one-off payment of $8 million. These projects will focus on the identification of T-cell receptor-modified T cell (TCR-T) immunotherapies to fight tumours.

The original partnership was penned to leverage Medigene’s TCR technology platform in the pursuit of new TCR-T immunotherapies, while bluebird bio will then assume responsibility for pre-clinical and clinical development and commercialisation of these candidates under an exclusive intellectual property license.

In a release, it was confirmed that “R&D funding for all work performed by Medigene in this collaboration will grow proportionally to address the broader scope of the collaboration”, while additional milestone payments on top of the original deal mean that the company could also receive a further $250 million in milestone payments. Medigene has said it expects to receive an extra payment of $1 million associated with the first of the deal’s collaborative projects.

“We are delighted to broaden this outstanding collaboration for the joint research and discovery of TCR lead candidates designed for the treatment of multiple cancer indications,” commented Dolores J Schendel, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer at Medigene. “Medigene is contributing its unique TCR technology platform, which encompasses multiple innovative screening and assessment tools to identify and characterise specific, non-modified TCRs to selected target antigens in a highly competitive timeframe. The expansion of this alliance further validates the efficiency and quality of Medigene's TCR platform technology.”

Dr Philip Gregory, Chief Scientific Officer at bluebird bio, added: “As we continue to build our leadership in immuno-oncology, we value Medigene's TCR technology platform which enables us to tackle intracellular tumour antigens not addressable by CAR-Ts. Our expanded collaboration will help us broaden our pipeline of TCR lead candidates for potential future clinical development.”

Matt Fellows

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