Taking on gamma delta T cells, bluebird pays $16M for TC BioPharm’s tumor invading tech platform

Gene therapy pioneer bluebird bio is teaming up with Scotland’s TC BioPharm to get its hands on an experimental program involving an emerging immunotherapy platform: CAR-engineered gamma delta T cells.

As part of the deal, bluebird $BLUE is paying TC BioPharm (TCB) a $16 million upfront payment, with undisclosed milestones and royalties down the road. TCB will be responsible for developing targets through Phase I/II, while bluebird has the exclusive option to take on further clinical development and commercialization worldwide.

Philip Gregory

Gamma delta T cells are targets for research for their potential to invade tissue and perhaps be better at invading tumors, which would be a groundbreaker in immuno-oncology. Where CAR-Ts have proved effective blood cancers, it’s been a challenge getting them into tumors And while checkpoint therapies like Keytruda and Opdivo require an environment with a heavy mutation load to be effective, gamma delta cells – at least in the preclinical work — don’t. Gamma delta cells have the essential properties to get inside tumors to do their work.

“Emerging research suggests that gamma delta T cells may constitute a powerful platform for CAR T cell therapies,” said Philip Gregory, chief scientific officer at bluebird bio, in a statement. “TCB is a leader in the gamma delta T cell field, with extensive capabilities spanning early research, clinical development and manufacturing. The combination with our deep expertise in CAR T cell biology, translational and clinical experience with leading CAR T cell drug products, and powerful gene therapy toolbox, offers a high degree of synergy. This partnership aims to help realize the full potential of the gamma delta T cell platform to bring novel and transformative therapies to cancer patients with high unmet medical need.”

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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