Celgene is handing over a $50 million payment to take up an option on Juno’s closely-watched CD19 CAR-T effort. The deal gives Celgene the right to develop and commercialize the CD19 program for Europe and other markets outside of North America and China, where Juno is keeping commercialization rights.
Celgene bagged a 10-year, $1 billion collaboration with Juno last summer, which gave Celgene a leading role in the first wave of reengineered T-cells being used to fight cancer. Investigators have been taking patients’ T cells and adding a chimeric antigen receptor to make them able to blitz cancer cells.
Seattle-based Juno says it has three promising therapies that target CD19 in development: JCAR015, JCAR017, and JCAR014. JCAR015 is in a Phase II trial for adults with relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia; JCAR017 is in two separate Phase I trials, one in pediatric patients with ALL and another in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma; JCAR014 is in a Phase I trial in three different indications, adult ALL, NHL, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, as well as a combo trial with AstraZeneca’s PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, durvalumab.
The option package gives Celgene a bigger role in the field, where Novartis and Kite have been included among the leaders in the pack.
“Celgene’s development and commercial expertise, particularly in hematologic malignancies, make them our ideal partner and will accelerate our global development capabilities for patients with ALL, CLL, and NHL,” said Hans Bishop, Juno’s president and CEO, in a statement. “The long-term collaboration with Celgene is an important component of our plan to develop our engineered T cell platform rapidly and effectively for the benefit of patients around the world, and we are encouraged by the progress we are making together.”
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