Juno Therapeutics, a Seattle-based biopharmaceutical company focused on re-engaging the body's immune system to treat cancer, has acquired X-BODY, a privately held biotechnology company with nine employees based in Waltham, Mass. The acquisition furthers Juno's strategy of investing in technologies that augment the company's capabilities to create best-in-class engineered T cells against a broad array of cancer targets. The acquisition brings in-house to Juno an innovative discovery platform that interrogates the human antibody repertoire, rapidly selecting fully human antibodies with desired characteristics, even against difficult targets.
"The X-BODY acquisition brings protein engineering capabilities to Juno that meaningfully improve our ability to generate novel CAR T and TCR product candidates, which will help optimize potential therapies against both current and new targets," said Hans Bishop, CEO of Juno.
Juno will incorporate this platform into its process for creating CAR T constructs, using it to generate new binding domains from fully-human naïve single chain variable fragment (scFv)-formatted libraries. Fully-human scFv's have the potential for reduced immunogenicity and improved CAR T cell in vivo persistence. Juno also plans to continue to explore the broader application of the technology to alternative antigen-binding platforms, including its TCR platform.
Since its founding in 2008, X-BODY has been focused on the discovery of human monoclonal antibodies against challenging membrane targets, and more recently the discovery of TCR binding domains. X-BODY has developed technologies that produce highly stable and functional binding molecules. X-BODY uses robust DNA-encoded human naïve libraries to identify functionally active and selective human binding domains and human monoclonal antibodies against key therapeutic targets.
The initial consideration for the X-BODY acquisition was approximately $21 million in cash and 439,265 shares of Juno stock. Juno also has agreed to make success-based payments in cash to the sellers upon the achievement of certain research, clinical and regulatory milestones for products that are generated using the X-BODY technology, as well as certain additional cash payments following commercialization.