Bluebird Bio Inks AFM Development Deal

Xconomy Boston — 

Cambridge, MA-based Bluebird Bio, a gene therapy company, said today it has signed an agreement with the French Muscular Dystrophy Association (AFM) to develop a treatment for beta-thalassemia (a genetic blood disorder) and sickle cell anemia. The deal is worth $1.4 million upfront, plus as much as $2.8 million in credit to manufacture clinical trial material at Généthon, AFM’s bio-therapy research center. Bluebird, which my colleague Luke profiled last September, uses a genetically engineered lentivirus to deliver a copy of a gene that enables the body to produce hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. The company’s investors include Third Rock Ventures, TVM Capital, Forbion Capital Partners, Easton Capital, and Genzyme Ventures.