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ASH- Second Chances For Bluebird And Novimmune

Bluebird Biotech (NASDAQ:BLUE) earned a dubious distinction as the first big loser of this year’s ASH conference, but it now has a chance to salvage some pride. This is courtesy of an ASH late-breaking study conducted by the NIH that could have a read-across to its own lead CAR-T project.

This was not the only second chance offered up by yesterday’s unveiling of the ASH late-breaking abstracts. A low-key private Swiss biotech, Novimmune, could be close to a therapy for haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a rare blood disorder, with a project that Merck KGaA (OTCPK:MKGAY) had earlier ditched.

Bluebird stock had lost 22% as investors adjusted to more realistic expectations on publication of its beta-thalassaemia gene therapy abstract at ASH earlier this month (ASH preview – Cellectis steals the limelight, November 6, 2015). Yesterday the shares crept up 4%.

The NIH work in question concerns a first-in-human study of a CAR-T construct against B-cell maturation antigen ((BCMA)), a protein expressed by plasma cells. These cells – effectively antibody-producing B-cells – are malignant in multiple myeloma, and thus this was the setting in which the NIH project was tested.

The abstract, which will likely be updated at ASH, details 11 of the first 12 patients treated, with efficacy comprising one complete and two partial remissions, and seven stable diseases, which the researchers call a demonstration of...


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