Bluebird bio initiates first CAR-T clinical trial

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The first clinical study of Bluebird’s CAR T cell therapy, bb2121, was launched for patients with multiple myeloma. Following their option for an exclusive license, Celgene has opted in through a $10 million payment to secure the deal.

cancer cells
In a sensible move on Celgene’s part to defend their multiple myeloma franchise, Celgene and bluebird have narrow their previously broad-based collaboration to focus on the CAR-T program.

James Kochenderfer of the National Cancer Institute attracted attention when early data demonstrated the addition of adding B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-chimeric antigen receptor to patients’ T cells. A cancer patient with multiple myeloma experienced a complete remission two months following CAR-BCMA treatment. “BCMA is one of the most exciting targets in multiple myeloma, and we are eager to explore the potential of bb2121 to become an important new treatment option for patients living with multiple myeloma,” explained James Kochenderfer.

Although the two companies are not alone in engineering CAR T cells for myeloma, analysts favour their chances:

“While several other groups have been working on myeloma CAR-T programs, anti-BCMA CAR-T data from BLUE’s collaborator at the NCI presented as late-breaker at ASH, 2015 has been most promising to date in our view,” noted Leerink’s Michael Schmidt.

Source: Engineered CAR T Cells Show Promise in Multiple Myeloma; Press Release