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Bluebird News A Positive For Juno, Kite Pharma

Bluebird News A Positive For Juno, Kite Pharma
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Citi’s Robyn Karnauskas said the positive early stage cancer study results from bluebird bio Inc (NASDAQ: BLUE) is positive for CAR-T space and B-cell maturation antigen (BMCA) drugs of Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: JUNO) and Kite Pharma Inc (NASDAQ: KITE).

Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are proteins that allow the T cells to recognize a specific protein (antigen) on tumor cells. BCMA is a suitable target for CAR-expressing T cells, and adoptive transfer of anti-BCMA-CAR-expressing T cells is a promising new strategy for treating multiple myeloma.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based bluebird bio said early data from its ongoing Phase 1 study of bb2121 showed objective anti-tumor responses in heavily pre-treated multiple myeloma patients. Bluebird bio is developing bb2121 in collaboration with Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG).

Study Highlights

Following are the key highlights of the study:

  • In highly refractory multiple myeloma, bb2121 shows 78 percent overall response rate (ORR), including 100 percent ORR at higher doses tested.
  • bb2121 appears safe, with no DLTs or serious cases of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) or neurotoxicity observed.
  • Safety profile was achieved with no anti-IL6/steroid treatment.

Beyond The Blue

Given the safety profile, the results are likely to boost investor confidence in CAR-T, following Juno Therapeutics' recent clinical hold due to neuro-toxicity related deaths.

Importantly, the analyst noted that bluebird's BCMA success is also a positive read-through for Juno and Kite Pharma as both are developing their own BCMA drugs for multiple myeloma and other B-cell malignancies.

“Though we note that the data is still early, we believe that Bluebird's success provides clinical validation for using BCMA to target multiple myeloma,” Karnauskas wrote in a note.

While Kite Pharma is expected to file IND for their fully-human KITE-585 in 2017, Juno expects to be in clinic as early as first half of 2017.

At last check, shares of bluebird surged 15.70 percent to $69.82. Meanwhile, Juno Therapeutics were up 0.25 percent to $20.10, while Kite Pharma fell 0.68 percent to $50.58.

Latest Ratings for BLUE

Dec 2017Maxim GroupDowngradesBuyHold
Dec 2017JefferiesUpgradesHoldBuy
Dec 2017Canaccord GenuityInitiates Coverage OnBuy

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