Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:JUNO) announced that it has defeated an attempt to invalidate a patent exclusively licensed by Juno that covers, among other things, a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell used for the treatment of B-cell malignancies, and that it is suing Kite Pharma, Inc., seeking a declaratory judgment that Kite’s lead product candidate, KTE-C19, will infringe the patent when commercially produced.

In August 2015, Kite Pharma, Inc. filed an inter partes review in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in an attempt to invalidate U.S. Patent No. 7,446,190 by challenging all of its claims. Juno exclusively licenses the ’190 patent, titled “Nucleic Acids Encoding Chimeric T Cell Receptors,” from Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, an affiliate of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The patent covers, among other things, a construct for a CD-19 targeted CAR T cell treatment that employs a CD28 costimulatory domain.

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office instituted a review of the patent and on December 16, 2016 issued a final written decision upholding all the claims of the patent.

“We are obviously pleased by the USPTO’s decision to uphold the patent,” said Bernard J. “Barney” Cassidy, General Counsel of Juno Therapeutics. “Our efforts to amicably and reasonably resolve the dispute Kite initiated have been thwarted and today we are taking the next step towards fully resolving matters. Importantly, our filing will not prevent continued patient access while the legal dispute continues.”

The lawsuit is being filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. Juno and the Sloan Kettering Institute are represented by Irell & Manella LLP in both the IPR and the litigation (Original Source)

Shares of Juno Therapeutics are currently rising 2.43% to $ 19.40, or up $0.46 in pre-market trading Monday. JUNO has a 1-year high of $49.72 and a 1-year low of $17.57. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $23.96 and its 200-day moving average is $30.67.

On the ratings front, Juno Therapeutics has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on December 6, Cowen analyst Chris Shibutani reiterated a Buy rating on JUNO, with a price target of $41, which implies an upside of 116% from current levels. Separately, on the same day, FBR’s Edward White reiterated a Hold rating on the stock and has a price target of $30.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Chris Shibutani and Edward White have a yearly average return of 9.5% and a loss of -10.0% respectively. Shibutani has a success rate of 64% and is ranked #683 out of 4283 analysts, while White has a success rate of 24% and is ranked #4155.

Sentiment on the street is mostly neutral on JUNO stock. Out of 9 analysts who cover the stock, 5 suggest a Hold rating and 4 recommend to Buy the stock. The 12-month average price target assigned to the stock is $33.50, which represents a potential upside of 77% from where the stock is currently trading.

Juno Therapeutics, Inc. operates as a biopharmaceutical company, which focuses on re-engaging the body’s immune system to revolutionize the treatment of cancer. It platforms include chimeric antigen receptors and T-cell receptors. The chimeric antigen receptors technology directs T-cells to recognize cancer cells based on expression of specific cell surface proteins. The T-cell receptors technology provides the T-cells with a specific T-cell receptor that recognizes protein fragments derived from either intracellular or extracellular proteins.