Regeneron Pharmaceuticals announced this morning that it would be investing $100 million in Cambridge, Massachusetts-based bluebird bio Inc., a gene therapy developer, as well as collaborating for a five-year period to develop and commercialize novel immune cell therapies for cancer.
The investment represents a premium of 59 percent – $238.10 – over the $150 closing price on Aug. 3. According to the announcement, this $37 million premium “will be credited against Regeneron’s initial 50 percent funding obligation for basic collaboration research.” Afterward, each company will fund ongoing research equally.
The two companies will use Regeneron’s VelociSuite platform technologies for the discovery of human antibodies as well as T cell receptors and bluebird bio’s gene transfer and cell therapy technologies.
Bluebird bio was incorporated in April 1992, under the name Genetix Pharmaceuticals. In September 2010 it changed its name to bluebird bio.
“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,” said George D. Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron.
Philip Gregory, chief scientific officer of bluebird bio, said, “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 companies have chosen 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.
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,” according to the press release. If Regeneron chooses not join, it would be eligible to receive royalties from bluebird bio on any resulting products.
Regeneron had global net sales of $5.93 billion last year.