Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:JUNO), a biopharmaceutical company focused on re-engaging the body’s immune system to revolutionize the treatment of cancer, announced today that it has acquired AbVitro, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company based in Boston, Massachusetts. The acquisition provides Juno with a leading next-generation single cell sequencing platform that will augment Juno’s capabilities to create best-in-class engineered T cells against a broad array of cancer targets. Juno andCelgene Corporation have agreed in principle to enter into an agreement to license Celgene a subset of the acquired technology and to grant Celgene options to certain related potential product rights emanating from the acquired technology.

AbVitro’s technology allows for the identification of fully-human, natively paired T cell receptors (TCRs) and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T binders directly from cancer patients. This capability, which allows for the interrogation of millions of single cells per experiment, enables the generation of binders that recognize known targets as well as the discovery of novel cancer antigen targets. Juno will also use the technology for translational assays to provide a better understanding of the natural immune response to cancer as well as to interrogate and monitor the immune system of cancer patients during treatment.

Juno intends to relocate the AbVitro scientists to Seattle and incorporate this platform into its therapeutic discovery process. In connection with the transaction, AbVitro co-founder and Harvard Medical School ProfessorGeorge Church will become a scientific consultant to Juno. Jeffrey Ostrove, Ph.D., former CEO of AbVitro, will also become a consultant to Juno.

“High throughput, single cell sequencing will meaningfully accelerate our research process in finding both novel antigen targets and appropriate TCR and CAR T cell binders. We remain highly encouraged by the potential of our engineered T cell technology to impact the lives of cancer patients, and this technology improves our capabilities to extend our platform to a broader array of cancer types including solid tumors,” said Hy Levitsky, M.D., Juno’s Chief Scientific Officer. “We are highly impressed with the quality of the science at AbVitro, and we are delighted to welcome this world-class team to Juno.”

“The technology platform we built at AbVitro represents an exciting, novel approach to the understanding of immune responses and the discovery of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and their antigen targets. The synergy with Juno’s goals in the field of TCR and CAR T cell therapies is a perfect match for our team and technology,” saidFrancois Vigneault, Ph.D., co-Founder and former Chief Scientific Officer of AbVitro, and now Juno’s Vice President, Research.

“Juno’s newly acquired high throughput, single cell sequencing capabilities have the potential to expand their current pipeline and Celgene is excited by the opportunity to access some of these potential new drugs,” said Rob Hershberg, M.D., Ph.D., Celgene’s Chief Scientific Officer. “This transaction is another example of the Celgene and Juno collaboration providing benefits to both partners as we pursue therapies benefiting patients across the globe.”

The consideration for the AbVitro acquisition was approximately $78 million in cash and 1,289,193 shares of Juno stock. Juno and Celgene have agreed in principle to enter into an agreement to license Celgene a subset of the acquired technology and to grant Celgene options to certain related potential product rights emanating from the acquired technology. (Original Source)

Shares of Juno Therapeutics closed last Friday at $36.39, up $0.70 or 1.96%. JUNO has a 1-year high of $69.28 and a 1-year low of $33. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $47.33 and its 200-day moving average is $46.52.

On the ratings front, Juno Therapeutics has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on December 15, Standpoint Research analyst Ronnie Moas upgraded JUNO to Buy. Separately, on December 8, FBR’s Edward White maintained a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $73.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Ronnie Moas and Edward White have a total average return of 6.2% and -37.6% respectively. Moas has a success rate of 67.1% and is ranked #33 out of 3610 analysts, while White has a success rate of 0.0% and is ranked #3529.

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.