Gritstone and bluebird Ink Deal to Target Tumors With Gene and Cell Therapies

Two people at a desk looking at data and pointing to it

Cambridge, Mass.-based bluebird bio and Gritstone Oncology inked a deal to combine gene and cell therapies to target cancer.

This morning California-based Gritstone said it will leverage its artificial intelligence platform, dubbed EDGE, to analyze specific tumor types for the collaboration. Under the agreement, Gritstone will identify 10 tumor-specific targets across several tumor types. Additionally, EDGE will be used to identify tumor-specific targets and natural T-cell receptors (TCRs) directed to those targets for use in bluebird bio’s established cell therapy platforms. As part of the agreement, bluebird will conduct all development, manufacturing and potential commercial activities.

The Bay Area’s Gritstone will also use its EDGE platform to identify the patients the companies will include in potential clinical trials.

By combining expertise to target cancers, the companies are adapting to changes in the field of immuno-oncology. Andrew Allen, president and chief executive officer of Gritstone, said it “has become clear that targeting T-cell therapeutics to solid tumors in a highly specific manner is vital to enable potent tumor cell killing with sparing of normal tissues.” Allen said the company’s artificial intelligence-based approach to identifying tumor-specific targets and naturally occurring TCRs in combination with bluebird’s areas of expertise in gene and cell therapy, will allow the two companies to “develop cellular immunotherapies against differentiated oncology targets.”

Philip Gregory, bluebird’s chief scientific officer, agreed with Allen. “By combining our expertise in gene and cell therapy with Gritstone Oncology’s unique target identification and TCR technology, we hope to bring the power of cell therapy to a broader set of newly-validated targets, enabling us to treat previously unaddressable patient populations,” Gregory said in a statement.

Gregory said the collaboration with Gritstone is “highly complementary” to bluebird’s goal of advancing novel cellular therapies to treat cancer patients, particularly those who have solid tumors.

Gritstone will receive $20 million in an upfront payment and an additional $10 million in the form of a Series C preferred equity investment. In addition, Gritstone Oncology is eligible for significant development, regulatory and commercial milestones on any therapies, and tiered royalties on certain approved therapies, according to terms of the deal.

For Gritstone, this is the second collaboration the company has struck in the past few weeks. In July, Gritstone and Bristol-Myers Squibb struck a deal to evaluate the safety and tolerability of Gritstone’s personalized neoantigen immunotherapy called GRANITE-001 paired with BMS’ checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo. GRANITE-001 includes sequential delivery of neoantigens to patients within an adenovirus-based vector (prime) and a self-replicating RNA-based vector. The combination will be explored for its potential treatment of solid tumors.

Click here to get the latest life sciences news straight to your inbox. Subscribe now to our FREE newsletters

Back to news