Juno Therapeutics has purchased Stage Cell Therapeutics, a privately held biotechnology company, based in Munich and Göttingen, Germany. The acquired technologies will support the development of the next generation CAR-T and TCR-T products, bringing Juno one step closer to beating cancer.
The transaction further underlines Juno’s strategy of becoming a world leader in process development and in the manufacturing of cellular therapies. The American company will have access to transformative cell selection and activation capabilities, next generation manufacturing automation technologies, enhanced control of its supply chain, and lower expected long-term cost of goods. Juno plans to operate the acquired company, which employs 23 scientists, engineers, and other personnel, as a wholly-owned German subsidiary under the name Juno Therapeutics GmbH.
Since its founding in 2005, Stage Cell has been translating innovative and unique science and technology into cell therapeutics. The company´s next generation cell isolation and expansion technology platforms are based on fully reversible reagents that enable the advanced isolation and expansion of T-cells during the manufacturing process. Juno will invest in commercially scaling these but also in other technologies for incorporation into their next-generation CAR-T and TCR-T product candidates.
Juno made an upfront payment of €52.5M in cash (approximately $59 million) and around half a million shares of Juno stock to acquire the 95% of Stage Cell not already owned by the Americans. Juno has also to pay success based payments of up to €135M based upon the achievement of development and commercialization milestones related to novel reagents (€40M), advanced automation technology (€65 million), and Stage’s existing clinical pipeline (€30M).
The Seattle-based company, focused on re-engaging the body’s immune system to revolutionize the treatment of cancer, scored another victory last month, when it reached a settlement with Novartis after three years of CAR-T patent dispute. The settlement compelled Novartis to pay €10.9M to Juno. The American biotech became a party to the litigation after it entered into an agreement with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the original party in the litigation.