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Medigene, Bluebird Bio expand collaboration on cancer gene therapies

Germany's Medigene AG and Bluebird Bio Inc. expanded their collaboration to develop a higher number of customized, gene-based cancer therapies.

Medigene's T cell receptor-modified T cell, or TCR-T, immunotherapies involve genetically modifying a patients' immune cells outside the body and infusing them back to fight the tumor.

The revised agreement increases the number of TCR projects to six from four and involves a one-time payment of $8 million to Medigene.

Under the collaboration, Medigene would receive up to $250 million in milestone payments for every successful TCR program along with royalties on sales of up to a double-digit percentage.

The company also expects to receive an additional $1 million associated with the first project under the agreement, which was signed in September 2016.

Medigene will discover the TCR as per the target selected by Bluebird Bio, with the Cambridge, Mass.-based company then developing and commercializing the therapy through an exclusive license.

The TCR technology will allow the companies to tackle tumors that have molecular targets inside the cells and are not treatable by the chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapies, Bluebird Bio's Chief Scientific Officer, Philip Gregory, said in a statement.