bluebird bio, Inc. (Nasdaq: BLUE) and Gritstone Oncology, Inc. today announced a collaboration to research, develop and commercialize products for the treatment of cancer using cell therapy. Gritstone Oncology will leverage its proprietary EDGE™ artificial intelligence platform to analyze specific tumor types to identify tumor-specific targets and natural T-cell receptors (TCRs) directed to those targets for use in bluebird bio’s established cell therapy platforms. bluebird bio will conduct all development, manufacturing and commercial activities. Gritstone Oncology will utilize its proprietary technology platform to enable patient selection for clinical development of such therapies.
“By combining our expertise in gene and cell therapy with Gritstone Oncology’s unique target identification and TCR technology, we hope to bring the power of cell therapy to a broader set of newly-validated targets, enabling us to treat previously unaddressable patient populations,” said Philip Gregory, D.Phil., chief scientific officer of bluebird bio. “As we expand our immuno-oncology focus and portfolio, this collaboration with Gritstone Oncology is highly complementary to our goal of rapidly advancing novel cellular therapies with the potential to transform the lives of people with cancer, particularly in solid tumor indications.”
“As the field of immuno-oncology has evolved, it has become clear that targeting T-cell therapeutics to solid tumors in a highly specific manner is vital to enable potent tumor cell killing with sparing of normal tissues,” said Andrew Allen, M.D., Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Gritstone Oncology. “We believe that our artificial intelligence-based approach to identifying tumor-specific targets and corresponding, naturally occurring TCRs, combined with bluebird bio’s expertise in gene and cell therapy, will allow us to develop cellular immunotherapies against differentiated oncology targets. We look forward to collaborating with the bluebird bio team in order to develop innovative treatments for patients in need.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Gritstone Oncology will provide 10 tumor-specific targets across several tumor types and, in certain cases, TCRs directed to those targets to bluebird bio. Gritstone Oncology will receive $20 million in an upfront payment and an additional $10 million in the form of a Series C preferred equity investment. In addition, Gritstone Oncology is eligible for significant development, regulatory and commercial milestones on any therapies, and tiered royalties on certain approved therapies.
About bluebird bio, Inc.
With its lentiviral-based gene therapies, T cell immunotherapy expertise and gene editing capabilities, bluebird bio has built a pipeline with broad potential application in severe genetic diseases and cancer.
bluebird bio’s gene therapy clinical programs include investigational treatments for cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy, transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia, also known as β-thalassemia major, and severe sickle cell disease.
bluebird bio’s oncology pipeline is built upon the company’s lentiviral gene delivery and T cell engineering, with a focus on developing novel T cell-based immunotherapies, including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR T) and T cell receptor (TCR) therapies. The company’s lead oncology programs are anti-BCMA CAR T programs partnered with Celgene.
bluebird bio’s discovery research programs include utilizing megaTAL/homing endonuclease gene editing technologies with the potential for use across the company’s pipeline.
bluebird bio has operations in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Seattle, Washington; Durham, North Carolina and Zug, Switzerland.