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 RedoxTherapies, Inc., a privately held company based in Boston, Massachusetts. The acquisition provides Juno with an exclusive license to vipadenant, a small molecule adenosine A2a (A2a) receptor antagonist that has the potential to disrupt important immunosuppressive pathways in the tumor microenvironment in certain cancers. Juno intends to explore this molecule in combination with its engineered T cell platform and may over time explore it in other areas as well.

The adenosine pathway is increasingly recognized as one of the most important drivers in decreasing the immune response in cancer through upregulation of checkpoints, metabolic downregulation of T cells, and overall immune suppression. Inhibiting this pathway, particularly through the blockade of A2a receptor signaling, has been shown in pre-clinical models to enhance the efficacy of adoptive T cell therapy, checkpoint inhibitors, and vaccines across a number of blood and solid organ cancers.

Vipadenant, an orally bioavailable synthetic small molecule, potently and selectively blocks adenosine receptor mediated immunosuppression. In Phase I and II clinical trials in approximately 250 Parkinson’s disease patients and healthy volunteers, vipadenant was found to reach serum levels that predict saturation of the A2a receptor and blockade of signaling through this pathway and to be well tolerated in these subjects. In addition to vipadenant, with the transaction Juno has acquired proprietary know-how and intellectual property pertaining to the development of A2aR antagonists in combination with immuno-modulatory agents, such as the company’s engineered T cells. RedoxTherapies founder and adenosine biology pioneer Michail Sitkovsky, Ph.D. will become a scientific consultant to Juno.

“Multiple approaches to overcoming the tumor microenvironment will be key in optimizing the clinical benefit of engineered T cells, and T cells more broadly, in the treatment of cancer. Inhibiting the adenosine pathway is one of the most intriguing pathways in this important area of science, and we look forward to testing the hypothesis around this pathway clinically,” said Hy Levitsky, M.D., Juno’s Chief Scientific Officer. “We look forward to integrating this asset into our ongoing research and clinical efforts and exploring it in combination with product candidates from our portfolio.”

“As a leader in understanding the potential for adenosine receptor antagonists to destroy the immunosuppressive tumor-protecting barrier created by the tumor-generated extracellular adenosine, Redox compiled critical intellectual property to interrogate this biology. Reversing the inhibition caused by hypoxia and adenosine has the potential to unlock T cells in even the most difficult to treat tumors. The ability to combine our assets with Juno’s pipeline in the field of TCR and CAR T cell therapies is an ideal match, and we share a vision to optimize the activity of engineered T cells,” said Michail Sitkovsky, Ph.D., Founder of RedoxTherapies.

The upfront consideration for the RedoxTherapies acquisition was $10 million in cash. Redox is also eligible to receive payments upon the achievement of undisclosed clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones. (Original Source)

Shares of Juno Therapeutics closed today at $28.80, down $1.62 or -5.33%. JUNO has a 1-year high of $57.82 and a 1-year low of $22.37. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $40.71 and its 200-day moving average is $38.20.

On the ratings front, Juno has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report released yesterday, Maxim Group analyst Jason McCarthy reiterated a Buy rating on JUNO, with a price target of $80, which implies an upside of 159.4% from current levels. Separately, on the same day, Leerink Swann’s Michael Schmidt reiterated a Buy rating on the stock .

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Jason McCarthy and Michael Schmidt have a total average return of -7.5% and 5.4% respectively. McCarthy has a success rate of 31.7% and is ranked #3818 out of 4055 analysts, while Schmidt has a success rate of 55.4% and is ranked #680.

Juno Therapeutics, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on body’s immune system to treat cancer by developing cellular immunotherapies. It platforms include chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) and T-cell receptors (TCRs). The CAR technology is designed to target cell surface antigens that are expressed on cancer cells. In addition, the high-affinity TCR technology can also detect alterations in intracellular proteins present in tumor cells. These treatments have the potential to reduce longer-term toxicities associated with current chemotherapeutics.