Is Celgene (CELG) looking to take over Juno Therapeutics? – January 17, 2018

According to reports, Bigwig biotechnological Celgene Corporation ( CELG Free report) seeks to acquire minor biotech Juno Therapeutics ( JUNO Free report). [19659004] Justification of the agreement

Celgene is looking for new business and acquisitions given a lackluster 2017. Celgene suffered a series of setbacks in recent months. The company suffered a setback when an advanced study on its anti-cancer drug Revlimid in combination with Rituxan failed.

At the beginning of January 2018, Celgene announced that it will acquire Impact Biomedicines for an initial amount of $ 1.1 billion. The acquisition will add a late-stage candidate, fedratinib, a highly selective inhibitor of JAK2 kinase, to the Celgene portfolio. The candidate is being developed for the treatment of myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera. Fedratinib demonstrated statistically significant improvements in the primary and secondary endpoints of the splenic response and the total symptom score, respectively, in a randomized, placebo-controlled, pivotal Phase III trial (JAKARTA-1) for MF without prior treatment.

We note that the deceleration of mature products forced prominent biotechs to acquire smaller products with promising pipelines. Gilead Sciences, Inc. ( GILD Free Report) acquired Kite Pharma and subsequently obtained the FDA approval of Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel), the latter's CAR-T chimeric candidate.

Why is Celgene? Mulling Over the Acquisition?

Celgene already has a collaboration and investment agreement with Juno for the development and commercialization of immunotherapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases. The agreement entered into force in July 2015. Under the terms of the agreement, Celgene has the option to be the marketing partner for the candidates of autoimmune products of oncology and cell therapy of Juno, including candidates for T-cell products CAR CD19 and CD22 of Juno. 19659006] Under the agreement, Juno will have the option of entering into co-development and co-marketing agreements in certain development candidates originated by Celgene that target T cells.

In April 2016, Celgene exercised the option to develop and commercialize Juno CD19 Program outside of North America and China. The company also entered into a license agreement previously negotiated with Juno with respect to said program by paying a license of $ 50.0 million.

Celgene shares have a 22.3% loss in value in the last six months compared to the industry's 2.4% decline, while the shares of Juno increased significantly after the news.

CAR-T Therapy Holds Promise

The CAR-T therapy space was in the spotlight in 2017 when the FDA approved the first CAR-T, Kymriah therapy for the treatment of patients up to 25 years of age with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, refractory B-cell precursor or in the second or later stage of relapse.

Given the immense potential of therapy, Celgene also wants to follow the path of Gilead. Meanwhile, Celgene also has a partnership with bluebird bio, Inc. ( BLUE Free Report) for candidates for CAR-T therapy. Last month, the company also announced the results of the ongoing Phase I CRB-401 clinical study on cellular CAR-T therapy with B-cell maturation antigen, bb2121. The data showed an ORR of 94% in patients in active dose cohorts (doses higher than 50 x 106 CAR + cells) and a CR rate of 56% in patients in active dose cohorts.

Zacks Rank

Currently Celgene carries a range of Zacks n. ° 3 (maintain). You can see the complete list of shares of Zacks # 1 Rank (Strong Buy) today here ..

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