DURHAM–Massachusetts-based bluebird bio, which has a manufacturing facility in Durham, has inked a $30 million deal with Gritstone Oncology to research, develop and commercialize product to treat cancer using cell therapy.

The companies say California-based Gritstone will use its EDGE artificial intelligence platform to identify tumor-specific targets and natural T-cell receptors (TCR) directed to those targets for use in bluebird bio’s established cell therapy technologies.

Under terms of the agreement, Gritstone Oncology will receive $20 million in an upfront payment and $10 million in a Series C preferred equity investment. Gritstone is also eligible for significant development, regulatory, and commercial milestones on therapies and tiered royalties on certain approved therapies.

Bluebird bio will conduct all development, manufacturing, and commercial activities. The company makes components of its cell therapies at its 125,000 square foot facility in Durham.

Gritstone Oncology will use its platform to select patients for clinical development of the therapies.

“By combining our expertise in gene and cell therapy with Gritstone Oncology’s unique target identification and TCR technology, we hope to bring the power of cell therapy to a broader set of newly-validated targets, enabling us to treat previously unaddressable patient populations,” said Phillip Gregory, chief scientific officer of bluebird bio, in a statement.

He added that the collaboration has the potential to transform the lives of people with cancer, particularly solid tumors.

Previously on WRAL TechWire:

bluebird bio chooses NC for new drug manufacturing plant


FDA grants expedited status for bluebird bio’s gene therapy