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.
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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