Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) has placed its bet in the race to develop and market T cell therapies for oncology with a $1 billion infusion in cell therapy favorite Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:JUNO).
Celgene now has the option to commercialize Juno’s oncology and cell therapy product candidates, including their CD19 and CD22 directed CAR-T candidates, in certain regions. Expectations are already high for the CD19 CART in hematologic indications following quality results in pilot studies, and investors hope that those outcomes are replicable in solid tumors with the CD22 program. Juno will be responsible for research and development in North America and will retain commercialization rights in the region. Meanwhile, Celgene will be responsible for development and commercialization in the rest of the world, and will pay Juno a royalty on sales in those territories if the products reach the market.
Juno will have the option to enter into a co-development and co-commercialization agreement on certain Celgene-originated development candidates that target T Cells. On these programs, the two share in the costs of both development and commercialization.
Juno will receive an upfront cash payment of $150 million, and Celgene will purchase 9,137,672 shares of Juno stock at $93 per share, for a purchase price of $850 million. That takes JUNO’s outstanding share count to about 100 million – or a market value of $6.5 billion at $65 per share in the aftermarket Monday – and its cash position to about $1.5 billion. Celgene reserved the right to acquire up to 30% of Juno over the 10-year collaboration.
B-Cell Maturation Antigen (BCMA) was excluded as a target from the collaboration, having recently been farmed out to bluebird bio. Celgene walked away from a broader CAR-T partnership with bluebird at that time, and has apparently passed over other similar product developers like Kite Pharma and Cellectis in inking the Juno deal.
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