Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) and bluebird bio, Inc. (NASDAQ: BLUE) today announced a collaboration to apply their respective technology platforms to the discovery, development and commercialization of novel immune cell therapies for cancer. The collaborators will specifically leverage Regeneron’s VelociSuite® platform technologies for the discovery and characterization of fully human antibodies as well as T cell receptors (TCRs) directed against tumor-specific proteins and peptides, and bluebird bio will contribute its field-leading expertise in gene transfer and cell therapy.
“Like Regeneron, bluebird is a science-focused company looking to push the limits of what novel technologies can do in drug discovery and development,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron. “We believe that the tremendous synergies between Regeneron’s proven technologies and bluebird’s toolbox of advanced cell and gene therapy technologies create a promising opportunity to help people with cancer by developing innovative new treatments. This collaboration adds yet another dimension to our rapidly advancing portfolio of immuno-oncology candidates and combination approaches.”
“The collaboration with Regeneron complements bluebird bio’s growing immuno-oncology development portfolio, which includes clinical and pre-clinical CAR T and T cell receptor programs,” said Philip Gregory, D.Phil., Chief Scientific Officer of bluebird bio. “With Regeneron’s proven targeting technologies, in combination with our deep expertise in cell biology and vector technology, as well as clinical experience with leading CAR T cell drug products, we hope to rapidly advance novel cellular therapies with the potential to transform the lives of people with cancer.”
The collaborators have jointly selected six initial targets and will equally share the costs of research and development up to the point of submitting an Investigational New Drug (IND) application. Additional targets may be selected over the five-year research collaboration term. When an IND is submitted for a potential cell therapy product, Regeneron will have the right to opt-in to a co-development/co-commercialization arrangement for certain collaboration targets, with 50/50 cost and profit sharing. If Regeneron does not opt-in, the company is eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties from bluebird bio on any potential resulting products.
Regeneron will also make a $100 million investment in bluebird bio common stock at a price of $238.10 per share, which represents a premium of 59 percent over the $150 closing price on August 3, 2018. This approximately $37 million premium will be credited against Regeneron’s initial 50 percent funding obligation for basic collaboration research, after which the collaborators will fund ongoing research equally. The transaction is subject to preclearance by the Federal Trade Commission under applicable antitrust laws.