Juno, which is focused on the development of immunotherapies, entered in a deal worth more than $1 billion with Celgene.
The collaboration will see the companies leveraging T-cell therapeutic strategies to develop treatments for patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases. The initial focus will be on chimeric antigen receptor technology (CAR-T) and T-cell receptor (TCR) technologies.
It’s the largest up-front sum for a biotechnology licensing agreement ever, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
CAR-Ts improve on existing immunotherapies by removing disease-fighting T cells from the blood and re-engineering them to target cancer cells with near laser-like focus. This overcomes two clinical problems when it comes to fighting cancer, said Stephen Ansell, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic specializing in cancer and blood disorders.
Novartis, Kite Pharmaceuticals and Bluebird Bio have all been developing their own versions of CAR-T treatments. However, Juno’s drugs appear to be attracting the lion’s share of attention these days. Celgene, for instance, narrowed an existing 2013 agreement it has with Bluebird this month, and appears now to be swinging its attention to Juno. J.P Morgan, meanwhile, believes Juno’s “multiple sources of technology/innovation may prove to be a competitive advantage over time.”
Celgene Corporation is an American biotechnology company that manufactures drug therapies for cancer and inflammatory disorders. It is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Summit, New Jersey.