The deal involves Regeneron investing $100m (€86.2m) in bluebird bio common stock, paying a premium of 59% on the closing price ($150) prior to the deal being agreed.
The arrangement sees both biotechs take forward six initial drug candidates, sharing the cost of R&D up to the point of an investigational new drug (IND) application being filed. At this point, Regeneron will have the option to co-develop and co-commercialise the drug, with a 50-50 split of profit and cost.
Initially, the deal will run for five years, making the arrangement a relatively long-term deal. A spokesperson for Regeneron explained why such a time period was desirable for the partnership: “While we already have many promising components to apply to this approach, we know good science and productive R&D takes time. We are committed to taking the long-view on drug discovery and development, so five years is a reasonable initial timeframe.”
The spokesperson also confirmed that the six candidates could be “continually refreshed” to bring in other potential cell therapies.
Philip Gregory, chief scientific officer of bluebird bio, explained the rationale behind the deal in a statement: “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.”
Regeneron will utilise its VelociSuite platform for the discovery of fully human antibodies, as well as T cell receptors directed against tumour-specific proteins and peptides. While bluebird will use its knowledge of CAR-T technology and gene therapies to progress the candidates through the clinic.
In regards to when the initial six targets could start coming through to the clinic, the spokesperson only stated that exact timeframes could not yet be predicted.