Five Prime Therapeutics will provide exclusive rights to its human antibodies to bluebird bio under a collaboration by the companies to research, develop, and commercialize chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell cancer therapies.

Five Prime could receive $131.5 million-plus from bluebird bio. The collaboration will combine bluebird’s lentiviral gene therapy platform and CAR T capabilities with Five Prime’s antibodies to what the companies would only call “an undisclosed cancer target for hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.”

Under their exclusive license agreement, bluebird bio agreed to pay Five Prime $1.5 million upfront, plus more than $130 million per licensed product tied to achieving development, regulatory, and commercial milestones. Five Prime could also receive unspecified tiered royalties on product sales.

bluebird bio agreed to conduct and fund clinical development as well as regulatory and commercial activities.

“We feel that bluebird bio is well positioned to succeed with converting Five Prime's human antibodies to CAR T cell products that can benefit patients, and we are pleased that our proprietary platform continues to demonstrate its versatility in the field of immuno-oncology,” Lewis “Rusty” T. Williams, M.D., Ph.D., Five Prime’s CEO and president, said in a statement.

Five Prime’s platform is designed to speed up protein drug discovery. The platform consists of Five Prime’s own library of more than 5,700 human extracellular proteins, derived from more than 100 distinct human tissues, plus the company’s own technologies for producing and testing thousands of proteins at a time.

The company’s pipeline includes the FGF ligand trap FP-1039 (GSK 3052230), a Phase Ib candidate being co-developed with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for squamous non-small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma. Also in Phase Ib is the CSF1R antibody FPA008 for rheumatoid arthritis. The compound is in preclinical phases for Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS), and as a combination therapy with the Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) drug Opdivo (nivolumab) for six cancers. Another compound, the FGFR2b antibody FPA144, is in Phase I for gastric cancer.

Five Prime has established immuno-oncology collaborations with BMS and Adimab, as well as partnerships in other research areas with GSK (respiratory and muscle diseases), Boehringer Ingelheim (rheumatoid arthritis), Centocor (osteoarthritis and pulmonary fibrosis), Pfizer (oncology and diabetes), and UCB (fibrosis and CNS).

bluebird’s pipeline is led by the gene therapy Lenti-D™ for childhood cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy, now in the Phase II/III “Starbeam” study; and LentiGlobin®, a gene therapy under a global Phase I/II study for beta-thalassemia, a Phase I/II study in France for beta-thalassemia or severe sickle cell disease; and a Phase I study in the U.S. for sickle cell disease. The company is also partnering with Celgene on a preclinical CAR T cell cancer therapy, and carrying out unpartnered discovery research programs utilizing megaTALs/homing endonuclease gene editing technologies.

“Five Prime's program offers a strategic fit to our research and will augment bluebird bio's growing pipeline of immuno-oncology research and preclinical programs,” added bluebird COO Jeffrey T. Walsh.

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