Celgene Bets On CAR T-Cell Player Juno

Celgene has agreed to buy Juno Therapeutics for $9 billion. The buyout gives Celgene ownership of the therapy JCAR017, instantly making it a preeminent player in the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell space.

Kite (axicabtagene ciloleucel), which Gilead recently bought for $12 billion, and Novartis (tisagenlecleucel) lead the CART-cell race, with Juno not far behind. Celgene is betting that it can still carve out franchise value for itself as marketing operations mature.

JCAR017 has produced some impressive efficacy and safety data. Preliminary data from the ongoing TRANSCEND trial showed that 75 percent of patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) who were treated with JCAR017 achieved complete remission within three months of treatment.

In a company statement, Celgene CEO Mark Alles noted, “Juno’s advanced cellular immunotherapy portfolio and research capabilities strengthen Celgene’s global leadership in hematology and [add] new drivers for growth beyond 2020.”

Source: Endpoints News, January 22, 2018.