bluebird bio partners with Celgene to develop anti-BCMA CAR T therapy

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bluebird bio has entered into an agreement with Celgene to co-develop and co-promote bb2121, an investigational anti-B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy for treating patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma in the United States.

The two companies initially entered into a global strategic research collaboration in 2013 to advance gene therapy technologies for treating various cancers. This agreement was amended in 2015 and under the terms of the new three-year collaboration, the focus was to develop product candidates for targeting BCMA. bluebird bio retained rights to develop all of its other CAR T cell programs for solid tumors and hematologic malignancies.

Under the terms of the new agreement, bluebird and Celgene have joint responsibility for developing, manufacturing and commercializing bb2121 in the US. Celgene holds the responsibility for drug product manufacturing and commercialization outside the US for which bluebird will receive milestones and royalties. The companies are also working together on a second anti-BCMA CAR T program, bb21217.

bb21217 complements bb2121 but is thought to be more potent than the latter. This is because for bb21217, the CAR T cell product is enriched for memory T cells – a long-lived, more potent T cell subtype for increased anti-tumor efficacy.

Dr Joanne Smith-Farrell, bluebird bio’s Senior VP of corporate development and strategy commented: “Entering into this co-development and co-promotion partnership with Celgene is a significant step forward in building a fully integrated oncology franchise for bluebird and together, we are committed to rapidly advancing development of bb2121 for patients. The collaboration builds upon our extensive research and development capabilities in oncology and is a testament to the strong partnership that exists between our two companies.”

Source: bluebird bio and Celgene Corporation Enter into Agreement to Co-Develop and Co-Promote Anti-BCMA CAR T Cell Therapy bb2121 in the United States; Press Release