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bluebird bio expands US$1bn deal with MediGene

CAR-T cell developer bluebird bio Inc. has extended its potential US$1bn deal with cancer neoantigen TCR specialist MediGene by two new targets adding US$500m potential revenues to the licence agreement.

Under the 2016 R&D collaboration, German Medigene AG identifies TCRs directed against four unnamed cancer targets. Now bluebird added two additional targets to its wish list paying and additional US$8m upfront and $250m  in milestones for each target plus double-digit royalities. The deal followed a US$1m milestone payment to MediGene under the 2016 deal.

“As we continue to build our leadership in immuno-oncology, we value Medigene’s TCR technology platform which enables us to tackle intracellular tumor antigens not addressable by CAR Ts,” said Philip Gregory, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, bluebird bio, “Our expanded collaboration will help us broaden our pipeline of TCR lead candidates for potential future clinical development.”

The conditions of the deal are the same as under the 2016 agreement: while Medigene selects TCRs to be used with bluebird bio’s CAR-T cell therapies, the US company is responsible for the development and global commercialisation of the treatments. However, R&D funding for all work performed by Medigene has grown proportionally to address the broader scope of the collaboration.

Medigene’s TCR platform works by mixing dendritic cells, which present a selected tumour antigen on a HLA peptide, with T cells that have not developed immune tolerance against that HLA peptide. Consequently, the T cells recognise the antigen and form a TCR pool with diverse affinities and crossreactivities from which the optimal “natural” TCR can be selected for cancer immune therapy.

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