Bristol Myers' Juno unit enlists Oxford BioMedica for CAR-T work

Juno will have access to Oxford BioMedica's new "OxBox" facility in Oxford, England. (Jun via Flickr/CC-by-SA 2.0)

Four months after moving under the Bristol Myers Squibb umbrella via its $74 million merger with Celgene, Juno Therapeutics has inked a new deal with Oxford BioMedica to feed its closely watched CAR-T pipeline.

Oxford BioMedica said Wednesday that it had signed a new deal with Juno, granting the CAR-T specialist access to its LentiVector platform and committing to at least five years of clinical supply.

Under the deal, Juno gets access to Oxford BioMedica’s newest commercial manufacturing center, OxBox. The site, set to start operating this year, boasts six GMP clean room suites, warehousing, cold chain facilities and additional labs. Oxford plans to add more GMP suites in a second phase of construction.

What does Oxford BioMedica get from the arrangement? $10 million in upfront cash, for starters. More importantly, the company gets to leverage its lentiviral vector technologies and commercial manufacturing brawn in the growing (and complicated) CAR-T and TCR-T fields.

If all goes to plan, Oxford BioMedica could see an additional $86 million from development and regulatory milestones for Juno's products and is entitled to receive up to $131 million in sales milestones and royalties on any Juno products that use the LentiVector platform.

CAR-T cell therapies are made from patients’ own T cells, which are taken out of the body and re-engineered to destroy cancers. The one-off treatments rack up steep costs for patients, payers and manufacturers for “potentially curative” results. Players in the field have been investing big money in manufacturing.

Now, the Oxford BioMedica agreement is part of BMS' work to revamp its own manufacturing network to accommodate its shift toward higher-tech therapies. In addition to the Juno plant that joined BMS with the Celgene merger, the Big Pharma picked up another in New Jersey Celgene built as part of its collaboration with Bluebird Bio. And it recently sold off a small-molecule plant to Catalent to focus on “the future requirements of its evolving pipeline.”

Previously, Juno inked a partnership with Thermo Fisher for access to activation reagents used to manufacture CAR-T meds.