Celgene, bluebird bio, and the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy Combine Strengths and Resources to Develop T-cell Based Therapies for Cancer
On March 19, 2013, Baylor College of Medicine signed an exclusive multiyear research and collaboration agreement and a platform technology license agreement with Celgene Corporation that launches the commercial development of novel immunotherapies involving manipulated T-cells that express chimeric antigen receptors (CAR CTLs). The licensed CAR CTL platform represents the collective research efforts of a team of principal investigators at the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy (CAGT), led by Director Malcolm Brenner.
The CAR CTL approach involves the genetic modification of a patient’s T-cells, a strategy that utilizes the expression of the chimeric antigen receptor to direct the manipulated T-cell to target and destroy tumor cells. The CAGT team is developing a number of different CAR CTL approaches that can potentially be used as weapons against a variety of tumor types.
Concurrent with the execution of the Celgene-BCM agreements, Celgene and its partner bluebird bio entered into a global strategic collaboration, such that this unique multiyear research and development alliance will leverage the strengths and talents of all three parties: (1) the expertise of the CAGT team to design, develop, and test novel CAR CTLs and guide them toward clinical entry, (2) bluebird bio’s expertise in personalized gene therapy drug development with a focus on leveraging its proprietary lentiviral vector platform, and (3) Celgene’s expertise and resources around conducting large-scale clinical trials and the development of commercially viable, GMP compliant manufacturing processes.
Under the terms of the agreements, Celgene has an option to license any CAR CTL product emerging from the collaboration after the completion of a phase I clinical trial. Bluebird bio will guide the commercial research and development of these products through the phase I trial process. The collaborations aim to yield new products that could represent future “standards of care” for treatment of both solid tumors and hematological malignancies. “The genetic manipulation of autologous T-cells is a new frontier in oncology, one that shows early promise in emerging clinical trials,” said Tom Daniel, President, Research and Early Development, at Celgene. “We see strong prospects for this collaboration between Celgene, bluebird bio and Baylor’s experienced leaders in this emerging field, led by Dr. Brenner, to advance this innovative approach to intractable problems in oncology.”
CAGT Director Malcolm Brenner stated, “The data on T-cell therapy for the treatment of multiple different cancers is extremely encouraging; this exciting collaboration provides a unique path to effectively develop chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells to change and advance available treatments for cancer patients worldwide.”
“The goal of technology transfer is to open doors for the commercial development of our most promising therapeutic approaches,” stated Michael Dilling, BLG Director. What makes the Celgene, bluebird bio, CAGT collaboration so exciting is the fact that this combined, talent-rich team is aligned and working toward the common goal of bringing highly effective novel personalized cancer therapies to patients worldwide. All of the components necessary for the successful development and commercialization of these promising CAR CTL approaches are assembled and working together. We look forward to the day that these therapies are widely available to help patients.”