Juno Therapeutics Inc.JUNO announced the acquisition of Massachusetts-based privately held biotech company AbVitro, Inc. in a cash and stock transaction.
With this acquisition, Juno has gained access to AbVitro's next-generation single cell sequencing platform. AbVitro's high throughput, single cell sequencing will speed up Juno's discovery capabilities in finding both novel antigen targets and appropriate T cell receptors and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T binders.
Juno also intends to use the technology for translational assays for the better understanding of the natural immune response to cancer. Moreover, the company intends to move AbVitro scientists to its headquarters in Seattle and incorporate this platform into its therapeutic discovery process.
The cash and stock deal is valued at about $78 million in cash and 1,289,193 shares of Juno stock. Juno and Celgene Corporation CELG have reached an agreement in principle to license the latter a subset of the acquired technology and to grant it certain options related to product rights originating from the acquired technology.
We remind investors that last June, Juno had announced a 10-year deal with Celgene for the global development and commercialization of immunotherapies for the treatment of patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Last year was quite a busy one for Juno on both the acquisition and partnering front. The company not only acquired privately held biotech companies, X-BODY, Inc. and Stage Cell Therapeutics and gained access to their discovery platforms but also collaborated with companies like AstraZeneca plc AZN .
Meanwhile, the development of CAR T cell therapies has been attracting a lot of attention lately with several companies eyeing this field. Kite Pharma, Inc. KITE is also working on developing therapies utilizing CAR T cell technology.
Juno is a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock. AstraZeneca is also a favorably ranked stock in the health care sector carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).