bluebird bio Inc (NASDAQ:BLUE) , a clinical-stage company committed to developing potentially transformative gene therapies for severe genetic and rare diseases and T cell-based immunotherapies, announced that it has met with regulatory authorities in Europe and the United States to discuss potential approval pathways for its LentiGlobin BB305 product candidate for the treatment of beta-thalassemia major. These discussions have resulted in general agreement from both agencies regarding bluebird bio’s development plans, which could potentially result in accelerated approvals.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of these recent regulatory interactions,” commented David Davidson, M.D., chief medical officer. “We look forward to advancing our beta-thalassemia major program based on data both from our ongoing studies as well as two planned open-label studies with a sample size of 15 patients each. The EMA Adaptive Pathways pilot program will allow us to pursue conditional approval for the treatment of beta-thalassemia major on the basis of clinical data from our ongoing HGB-204 and HGB-205 studies. This feedback brings us closer to achieving our vision of delivering one-time, potentially transformative gene therapy to patients.”

EMA Registration Strategy: Participate in Adaptive Pathways Pilot Program

bluebird bio is one of the first companies to participate in the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Adaptive Pathways (formerly referred to as Adaptive Licensing) pilot program, which is part of the EMA’s efforts to improve timely access for patients to new medicines. Based on several discussions involving the EMA, European Health Technology Assessment (HTA) agencies and patient advocacy organizations as part of this program, bluebird bio believes it is possible to seek conditional approval for the treatment of adults and adolescents with beta-thalassemia major on the basis of the totality of clinical data, in particular reduction in transfusion need, from the ongoing Northstar Study and supportive HGB-205 study. Conversion to full approval will be subject to the successful completion of the HGB-207 and HGB-208 clinical trials discussed below, supportive long-term follow-up data and “real-life” post-approval monitoring data.

FDA Registration Strategy: Pursue Accelerated Approval Based on HGB-207 (n=15) and HGB-208 (n=15)

In addition, bluebird bio has reached general agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the design of its planned clinical trials HGB-207 and HGB-208. Based on its discussions with the FDA, bluebird bio believes that data from these trials, together with data from the ongoing beta-thalassemia major clinical studies (Northstar and HGB-205), could form the basis for a Biologics License Application (BLA) submission for LentiGlobin BB305. HGB-207 and HGB-208 share similar trial designs and are differentiated primarily by patient age. HGB-207 will enroll adult and adolescent patients; HGB-208 will enroll pediatric patients.

bluebird bio has also reached general agreement with the FDA on:

  • Sample size: 15 patients per trial
  • Duration: 24 months of follow-up per patient
  • Primary endpoint: 12 months of transfusion independence

In the United States, if the LentiGlobin BB305 product candidate demonstrates acceptable efficacy and safety in these patient populations, these planned clinical trials could support an accelerated approval, with post-approval confirmatory evidence to be provided with longer-term follow-up of these trials. As a result of this regulatory feedback and as required of all gene therapy clinical trials, bluebird bio has filed both clinical study protocols with theNational Institutes of Health (NIH) Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC). The RAC has notified bluebird bio that HGB-207 does not require an in-depth review or public RAC discussion. The RAC has also notified bluebird bio that the HGB-208 study protocol is scheduled for public review on June 9, 2015.

“We are grateful for the collaborative regulatory feedback from the FDA and EMA on the design of our pivotal studies, as well as feedback from the European HTA agencies and patient advocacy organizations that are participating in our Adaptive Pathways pilot project,” stated Anne-Virginie Eggimann, vice president of regulatory science. “We are looking forward to continuing our engagement with all of these stakeholders in the coming months to support the potential acceleration of the LentiGlobin BB305 program.”

Background on the EMA’s Adaptive Pathways Program

In establishing the Adaptive Pathways program, the EMA stated the following:

“The concept of Adaptive Pathways foresees either an initial approval in a well-defined patient subgroup with a high medical need and subsequent widening of the indication to a larger patient population, or an early regulatory approval (e.g. conditional approval), which is prospectively planned, and where uncertainty is reduced through the collection of post-approval data on the medicine’s use in patients. This approach is particularly relevant for medicines with the potential to treat serious conditions with an unmet medical need and may reduce the time to a medicine’s approval or to its reimbursement for targeted patient groups. It involves balancing the importance of timely patient access with the need for adequate, evolving information on a medicine’s benefits and risks. The Adaptive Pathways approach builds on regulatory processes already in place within the existing European Union legal framework.”

The pilot was initiated in March 2014 and was called “Adaptive Licensing” at the time. EMA changed the name to Adaptive Pathways “to better reflect the idea of a life-span approach to bring new medicines to patients with clinical drug development, licensing, reimbursement, and utilization in clinical practice, and monitoring viewed as a continuum.”

Background on the FDA Process and NIH’s RAC

FDA approval must be obtained before clinical testing of biological products. Each clinical study protocol for a gene therapy product is reviewed by the FDA and the NIH, through itsRecombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC). Within the FDA, the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) regulates gene therapy products. CBER works with the NIH and its RAC, which makes recommendations to the NIH on gene therapy issues and engages in a public discussion of scientific, safety, ethical and societal issues related to proposed and ongoing gene therapy protocols.

The NIH is responsible for convening the RAC to discuss protocols that raise novel or particularly important scientific, safety or ethical considerations at one of its quarterly public meetings. The Office of Biotechnology Activities (OBA) notifies the FDA of the RAC’s decision regarding the necessity for full public review of a gene therapy protocol. RAC proceedings and reports are posted to the OBA web site and may be accessed by the public. (Original Source)

Shares of bluebird bio Inc closed yesterday at $156.4 . BLUE has a 1-year high of $169.88 and a 1-year low of $20.01. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $136.97 and its 200-day moving average is $97.57.

On the ratings front, bluebird bio Inc has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on May 11, Suntrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Salveen Richter maintained a Buy rating on BLUE, with a price target of $205, which represents a potential upside of 31.1% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on May 6, Piper Jaffray’s Joshua Schimmer reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $186.

According to, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Salveen Richter and Joshua Schimmer have a total average return of 29.5% and 14.1% respectively. Richter has a success rate of 69.6% and is ranked #129 out of 3606 analysts, while Schimmer has a success rate of 64.0% and is ranked #210.

In total, 5 research analysts have given a Buy rating to the stock. When considering if perhaps the stock is under or overvalued, the average price target is $156.4 which is 6.4% above where the stock closed yesterday.

bluebird bio Inc is a clinical-stage biotechnology company. It is engaged in developing potentially transformative gene therapies for severe genetic and rare diseases and in the field of T cell-based immunotherapy.