GREENWICH, CT (December 5, 2014) - Opus Bio, Inc., today announced that Juno Therapeutics, Inc. has entered into an agreement to obtain a license for the company’s CAR-T cell product candidate targeting CD22, a protein expressed on most B cell leukemias and lymphomas. The CD22-targeted CAR T cell product candidate was developed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) under cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Opus Bio. The NCI has begun enrollment in a Phase I trial evaluating pediatric and young adult patients with relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).

CAR T cell therapy has the potential to address an important unmet need, according to Crystal Mackall, M.D., Chief, Pediatric Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health.  There is still much to learn about these immunotherapies, but the early results are hopeful.

“Juno has assembled the requisite platform to advance this exciting product candidate into the next stages of clinical development and potential commercialization,” said Opus Bio CEO, Douglas Lind.

“It is gratifying to see continued validation of the Opus Bio technology and broader Biomark Capital investment vision,” added Opus Bio Chairman and Biomark Capital Managing Partner, David Wetherell. “We are particularly impressed with the strength of Juno’s management team, the breadth of their pipeline, and the complementary fit for the CD22 therapy. We anticipate great things from Juno’s pursuits in this most exciting and promising area of cancer therapy," he added.

The NCI-sponsored trial is designed to enroll patients with CD22 positive cancers, with both CD19 positive and CD19 negative patients eligible for treatment. 

Financial terms were not disclosed. The license will not become effective until certain closing conditions are satisfied, including obtaining consent from the NCI.

About Chimeric Antigen Receptor and High-affinity T Cell Receptor Approaches

Cell-based cancer immunotherapies are based on chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR, and high-affinity T cell receptor, or TCR, approaches to genetically engineer T cells to recognize and kill cancer cells. T cells are a type of white blood cell that identify and kill infected or abnormal cells, including cancer cells, in healthy individuals. The CAR and TCR technologies can be applied to activate a patient’s own T cells so that they attack cancer cells. Through genetic engineering, a gene is inserted for a particular CAR or TCR construct into the T cell enabling it to better recognize cancer cells. The CAR technology directs T cells to recognize cancer cells based on the expression of specific proteins located on the cell surface, whereas the TCR technology provides the T cells with a specific T cell receptor to recognize protein fragments derived from either the surface or inside the cell. CAR construct typically uses a single chain variable fragment, or scFv, to recognize a protein of interest.  The modified T cells can be infused into the patient or frozen and stored for later infusion.


About Opus Bio

Opus Bio, Inc. is a diversified biologics company focused on the development and commercialization of breakthrough immunotherapy and cellular approaches for the treatment of cancer.   The company has established relationships with leading academic research institutions and biopharmaceutical companies with the intention of identifying promising early-stage innovative therapeutic candidates with a vision toward improving patient outcomes


About Biomark Capital

Biomark Capital is a venture capital and private equity firm comprised of experienced professionals with over 50 years of combined investment experience generating superior returns. Targeting companies with novel approaches to diagnostics, therapeutics, medical devices, and digital health that will change the face of healthcare innovation in the future, Biomark provides venture funding and assistance to early, mid, and late-stage life science companies. Biomark Capital shares the drive and vision of its portfolio companies to collaborate with them in accelerating growth and building successful business ventures. Biomark Capital believes now is a compelling time to invest in game changing technologies that can broaden the foundation of healthcare practice, change the face of patient care and improve quality of life.


About Juno

Juno Therapeutics, Inc. is building a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company focused on revolutionizing medicine by re-engaging the body’s immune system to treat cancer. Founded on the vision that the use of human cells as therapeutic entities will drive one of the next important phases in medicine, Juno is developing cell-based cancer immunotherapies based on chimeric antigen receptor and high-affinity T cell receptor technologies to genetically engineer T cells to recognize and kill cancer. Juno is developing multiple cell-based product candidates to treat a variety of B-cell malignancies as well as solid tumors.  Several product candidates have shown compelling evidence of tumor shrinkage in the clinical trials in refractory leukemia and lymphoma conducted to date. The company’s long-term aim is to improve and leverage its cell-based platform to develop new product candidates that address a broader range of cancers and human diseases.  Juno brings together innovative technologies from three of the world’s leading research institutions - the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute.


Media Contact for Biomark Capital:

David Wetherell, 203-769-2345


Media Contact for Opus Bio:

Douglas Lind, 203-769-2348


Media Contact for Juno:

Andreas Marathovouniotis, W2O Group, 212-301-7174