Gritstone will use its artificial intelligence (AI) platform, Edge, to further research bluebird bio’s cell therapy platforms. Bluebird will conduct all development, manufacturing and commercial activities.
Per the agreement, Gritstone will provide bluebird with 10 tumor-specific targets and natural T-Cell receptors (TCRs) directed to those targets. In return, Gritstone will receive a payment of $20m upfront and an additional $10m in the form of a Series C equity investment. Gritstone is eligible for significant development, regulatory and commercial milestones on any therapies and tiered royalties on certain approved therapies.
Andrew Allen, president and chief executive officer of Gritstone said in a press release, “As the field of immune-oncology has evolved, it has become clear that targeting T-cell therapeutics to solid tumors in a highly specific manner is vital to enable potent tumor cell killing with sparing of normal tissues.”
Bluebird’s cell therapies are lentiviral-based. Bluebird also has T-cell immunotherapy and gene editing capabilities with an application to genetic diseases and cancer.
Recently, bluebird’s LentiGlobin gene therapy was given an accelerated assessment by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for its treatment of transfusion dependent β-thalassemia. LentiGlobin was said to be a possible treatment solution that could remove the need for blood transfusions in certain patients. We also previously reported that bluebird collaborated with Celgene to expand its work in CAR T-cell therapies.
Neither Gritstone nor bluebird were available for further comment.