Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:JUNO), a biopharmaceutical company focused on re-engaging the body’s immune system to revolutionize the treatment of cancer, announced that it has acquired X-BODY, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company with nine employees based in Waltham, Massachusetts. The acquisition furthers Juno’s strategy of investing in technologies that augment the company’s capabilities to create best-in-class engineered T cells against a broad array of cancer targets. The acquisition brings in-house to Juno an innovative discovery platform that interrogates the human antibody repertoire, rapidly selecting fully human antibodies with desired characteristics, even against difficult targets.

“The X-BODY acquisition brings protein engineering capabilities to Juno that meaningfully improve our ability to generate novel CAR T and TCR product candidates, which will help optimize potential therapies against both current and new targets,” said Hans Bishop, CEO of Juno. “We are delighted to welcome our new Massachusetts-based employees, who have impressed us with the quality of their science and output since our partnership began in early 2014.”

Juno will incorporate this platform into its process for creating CAR T constructs, using it to generate new binding domains from fully-human naïve single chain variable fragment (scFv)-formatted libraries. Fully-human scFv’s have the potential for reduced immunogenicity and improved CAR T cell in vivo persistence. Juno also plans to continue to explore the broader application of the technology to alternative antigen-binding platforms, including its TCR platform.

“We are excited to be a part of the Juno team. This union will advance our technology’s utility in this new, potentially disruptive area of medicine, accelerating the battle against cancer,” said Yan Chen, M.D., Ph.D., formerly SVP Research of X-BODY, and now Head of Biotherapeutic Discovery at Juno. “Our goal has always been to use our technology to develop best-in-class medicines to improve human health, and joining Juno only strengthens that focus.”

Since its founding in 2008, by Richard W. Wagner, Ph.D., Brant Binder, and Gordon Binder, X-BODY has been focused on the discovery of human monoclonal antibodies against challenging membrane targets, and more recently the discovery of TCR binding domains. X-BODY has developed technologies that produce highly stable and functional binding molecules. X-BODY uses robust DNA-encoded human naïve libraries to identify functionally active and selective human binding domains and human monoclonal antibodies against key therapeutic targets.

The initial consideration for the X-BODY acquisition was approximately $21 million in cash and 439,265 shares of Juno stock. Juno has also agreed to make success-based payments in cash to the sellers upon the achievement of certain research, clinical, and regulatory milestones for products that are generated using the X-BODY technology, as well as certain additional cash payments following commercialization. (Original Source)

Shares of Juno Therapeutics closed yesterday at $53.07 . JUNO has a 1-year high of $62.50 and a 1-year low of $34.71. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $50.08 and its 200-day moving average is $49.08.

On the ratings front, Juno Therapeutics has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report released yesterday, J.P. Morgan analyst Cory Kasimov reiterated a Buy rating on JUNO, with a price target of $66, which implies an upside of 24.4% from current levels. Separately, on May 12, Leerink Swann’s Howard Liang reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $74.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Cory Kasimov and Howard Liang have a total average return of 14.1% and 32.2% respectively. Kasimov has a success rate of 64.2% and is ranked #219 out of 3610 analysts, while Liang has a success rate of 66.1% and is ranked #86.

Juno Therapeutics Inc is a biopharmaceutical company. The Company is engaged in revolutionizing medicine by re-engaging the body’s immune system to treat cancer.