Regeneron has increased its interest in cellular therapies through a T cell co-development partnership with bluebird bio.
The deal sees Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and bluebird bio combine their respective tech platforms to discover, develop and commercialize an initial six candidates against tumor-specific proteins and peptides, including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T and other T cell receptors (TCRs).
As part of the collaboration, Regeneron has invested $100 million (€87 million) in its new partner bluebird, buying 420,000 shares at a price of $238.10 each.
“Bluebird is a leader in the CAR T space, but they recognize that the limitation in the field is the need for more ‘targeting’ agents for the engineered T cells,” Regeneron spokesperson Alexandra Bowie told BioProcess Insider.
“Our complementary technologies have the potential to expand the types of tumors that modified T cells can safely and effectively target by enabling the T cells to reach both extracellular and intracellular tumor antigens.”
Regeneron’s tech comprises of VelociSuite, a series of technologies designed to enhance the discovery, development and manufacturing of antibody therapeutics.
“Our VelocImmune mice – with genetically humanized B cell immunity – are a source of fully human antibody-based targeting reagents. We have made quite a few exciting such targeters for cancer cells that we incorporate into our bispecific antibody approaches, but now we and Bluebird are excited about trying these in their T cell approaches,” said Bowie.
“We also have the VelociT mouse with a genetically humanized T cell immune system. This means we can do in vivo immunizations and optimizations to get the best possible – most specific and discriminatory – fully human T Cell Receptors out of these mice. We’re very excited about using these in vivo optimized/fully human TCRs in their T cell approaches.”
The work will be carried out in both companies’ labs by a joint scientific team working closely together.
This is not Regeneron’s first foray into cellular therapies. In August 2016, the firm inked a deal with Adicet Bio, aimed at developing allogeneic, or ‘off-the-shelf,’ T cell therapies.
“[The bluebird partnership] is a different but complementary collaboration,” Bowie told us. “Immuno-oncology is a ripe field for the pursuit of many different approaches.”