SEATTLE—Biopharmaceutical company Juno Therapeutics Inc. has acquired X-BODY Inc., a privately held biotechnology company that focuses on generating monoclonal antibody therapeutics. The initial consideration for the acquisition was approximately $21 million in cash and 439,265 shares of Juno stock. In addition, Juno will make success-based cash payments to the sellers if certain research, clinical and regulatory milestones are reached for products generated using the X-BODY technology, as well as certain additional cash payments following commercialization.
"We are excited to be a part of the Juno team. This union will advance our technology's utility in this new, potentially disruptive area of medicine, accelerating the battle against cancer," commented Dr. Yan Chen, former senior vice president of Research at X-BODY and current head of Biotherapeutic Discovery at Juno. "Our goal has always been to use our technology to develop best-in-class medicines to improve human health, and joining Juno only strengthens that focus."
X-BODY focuses on discovering human monoclonal antibodies against challenging membrane targets, most recently the discovery of TCR binding domains, and its technologies enable the production of highly stable, functional binding molecules. X-BODY's innovative discovery platform interrogates the human antibody repertoire to select fully human antibodies with desired characteristics. Juno will incorporate the platform into its process for creating its chimeric antigen receptor (CAR T) constructs, using it to generate new binding domains from fully human naive single-chain variable fragment (scFv)-formatted libraries, which have the potential to reduce immunogenicity and improve CAR T cell in-vivo persistence. The company also intends to explore the broader application of the technology to alternative antigen-binding platforms such as its T cell receptor (TCR) platform.
"The X-BODY acquisition brings protein engineering capabilities to Juno that meaningfully improve our ability to generate novel CAR T and TCR product candidates, which will help optimize potential therapies against both current and new targets," Hans Bishop, CEO of Juno, said in a press release. "We are delighted to welcome our new Massachusetts-based employees, who have impressed us with the quality of their science and output since our partnership began in early 2014."
The acquisition comes just a week after Juno announced an exclusive collaboration with Editas Medicine for CAR T and high-affinity TCR therapies for the treatment of cancer. Juno and Editas will focus on three research programs that utilize Editas' genome editing technologies and Juno's CAR and TCR technologies. Per the terms of the agreement, Editas will receive an upfront payment of $25 million, as well as up to $22 million in research support over the next five years across the three programs of the collaboration. Editas also stands to receive research, regulatory and commercial sales milestones of more than $230 million for each program, as well as tiered royalties on any products that results from this agreement.
“Encouraged by the clinical results we have seen to date with our product candidates, we are committed to accessing and investing in leading science to create next generation therapeutics that maximize benefits and increase the breadth of cancers we address,” Bishop commented in a statement on the collaboration. “Editas’ disruptive genome editing technology may unlock the ability of CAR T and TCR technologies to address a much wider range of cancers, giving hope to countless patients and families waiting for treatments.”