Drug Development

CAR-T player Juno grabs a PhII combo drug in $10M add-on deal

Fresh on the heels of a brief but controversial FDA hold on its lead therapy, Juno has made a small, strategic acquisition, buying Boston-based Redox Therapies.

Redox is only costing Juno $10 million upfront, a rounding error for a fast-moving biotech that is engaged in a race to develop the first CAR-T drug. That plus an unspecified set of milestones is delivering vipadenant, a small molecule adenosine A2a (A2a) receptor antagonist that “has the potential to disrupt important immunosuppressive pathways in the tumor microenvironment in certain cancers.”

As such, the drug has the potential work in combination with a CAR-T that drives an immune cell assault against cancer.

Juno had Phase I and Phase II data to work with, and will now add Redox founder Michail Sitkovsky as a scientific consultant to Juno.

“As a leader in understanding the potential for adenosine receptor antagonists to destroy the immunosuppressive tumor-protecting barrier created by the tumor-generated extracellular adenosine, Redox compiled critical intellectual property to interrogate this biology. Reversing the inhibition caused by hypoxia and adenosine has the potential to unlock T cells in even the most difficult to treat tumors. The ability to combine our assets with Juno’s pipeline in the field of TCR and CAR T cell therapies is an ideal match, and we share a vision to optimize the activity of engineered T cells,” said Sitkovsky in a statement.

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