Juno Therapeutics has acquired privately-held Stage Cell Therapeutics for up to $233 million in upfront and potential milestone payments, in a deal designed to further the buyer’s goal of becoming a leader in process development and manufacturing of cell therapies.

“This important acquisition is driven by our strategy to have best in class process development and manufacturing capabilities in support of our goal of developing next generation CAR and TCR products,” Juno CEO Hans Bishop said in a statement yesterday.

Juno also said it plans to operate Stage as a wholly-owned German subsidiary under the name Juno Therapeutics GmbH. Based in Munich and Gottingen, Germany, Stage employs 23 scientists, engineers, and other staffers.

Founded in 2005, Stage has developed advanced cell isolation and expansion technology platforms based on fully reversible reagents that enable the advanced isolation and expansion of T cells during the manufacturing process.

Juno said it will invest in commercially scaling these and other technologies for incorporation into next-generation CAR and TCR product candidates.

Juno agreed to pay €52.5 million (about $59 million) in cash and 486,279 shares of Juno stock valued at about $22 million to acquire the 95% of Stage not already owned by Juno.

Additionally, Juno agreed to pay up to €135 million (about $152 million) tied to achieving development and commercialization milestones related to novel reagents (€40 million or $45 million), advanced automation technology (€65 million or $73.2 million), and Stage's existing clinical pipeline (€30 million or $33.8 million).

Juno was launched in 2013 by The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Juno raised about $265 million through an initial public offering in December 2014. Before the IPO, the company had privately raised more than $300 million from investors that include Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.

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