Juno Therapeutics has acquired privately held biotech AbVitro. The move puts Juno into place to use the next-generation single cell sequencing platforms to augment its ability to create T cells engineered to target a broad array of cancer targets. Through this acquisition, Juno will accelerate its fully human TCR and CAR binder generation, novel target discovery, and translational research.

In June, Celgene launched a ten-year, $1 billion collaboration with Juno to codevelop and co-commercialize cancer and autoimmune therapies, which included a $150 million upfront payments and the purchase of 9.1 million shares (10%) of Juno’s common stock.

This transaction, worth $78 million plus 1,289,193 shares of Juno stock, will also relocate AbVitro scientists to Seattle to incorporate the platform into Juno’s therapeutics discovery process. Juno and Celgene have agreed in principle to license investor Celgene a subset of acquired technology and to grant Celgene options to some potential related products stemming from said acquired technology.

“High throughput, single cell sequencing will meaningfully accelerate our research process in finding both novel antigen targets and appropriate TCR and CAR T cell binders. We remain highly encouraged by the potential of our engineered T cell technology to impact the lives of cancer patients, says former AbVitro CEO Jeffrey Ostrove, Ph.D., who will also become a consultant to Juno.

AbVitro-developed technology enables researchers to identify fully human, natively paired T cell receptors and chimeric antigen receptors directly from cancer patients. “This technology improves our capabilities to extend our platform to a broader array of cancer types including solid tumors,” said Hy Levitsky, M.D., Juno’s CSO.

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