bluebird bio (NASDAQ:BLUE) released another sneak attack earnings press release with no prior notice on Thursday. Since the company doesn't typically hold a conference call for the earnings, there's apparently no need to give investors a heads-up that earnings are coming like most companies do.
Read the press release -- or this article -- at your leisure. It's an update of what the company has done this year, but doesn't have any new information beyond an update on its cash situation, thus the lack of a need for a conference call, I guess.
For the record, bluebird bio lost $51.8 million during the quarter. The company ended the quarter with $936 million in the bank, which management thinks is enough to get the company through 2018 based on its current business plan. You read that right: bluebird bio has a two-and-half-year runway, something many biotechs can only dream about.
Like its cash situation, bluebird bio's pipeline is in good shape, too. This year, the company worked out a pathway with the FDA and EU regulators to get its lead gene therapy product, LentiGlobin BB305, approved for the treatment of beta-thalassemia major. EU regulators are only requiring data from two ongoing trials -- Northstar and HGB-205 -- while an approval in the U.S. will require two new trials, dubbed HGB-207 and HGB-208.
Clinical trial data for LentiGlobin BB305, which can treat sickle cell disease as well as beta-thalassemia major, has been fantastic. As of the last update in May, two beta-thalassemia major patients hadn't required transfusions for 14 and 16 months, and the one sickle cell patient who's been treated has anti-sickling hemoglobin above the threshold that's believed to be required for minimal sickle cell disease symptoms.
Finally, on the CAR-T front, bluebird bio has signed up a pair of partners -- Kite Pharma and Five Prime Therapeutics -- to help with developing targets on the tumors that the T-cells will attack. The Kite Pharma partnership is developing therapies against human papillomavirus-associated cancers. The Five Prime target hasn't been disclosed.
While bluebird has arguably had a great year; it hasn't been entirely perfect -- although you wouldn't know it from the press release since the company failed to mention the negatives for either event.
A deal with Celgene to potentially license multiple CAR-T stocks was narrowed to just a single target BCMA for treating multiple myeloma. Celgene went on to sign a major contract with rival CAR-T developer, Juno Therapeutics. bluebird bio's gene therapy program is further along than the CAR-T products, so the partial shunning by Celgene isn't a major issue.
The aforementioned HGB-207 and HGB-208 trials were reviewed by the National Institutes of Health Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, which recommended that the company delay the HGB-208 trial in young children until it has more data on LentiGlobin BB305. Fortunately, the committee signed off on the HGB-207 trial in adults and adolescents, although it isn't clear how this might affect the timing for FDA approval.
Brian Orelli has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends bluebird bio and Juno. It recommends and owns shares of Celgene. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.