After news of Gilead Sciences Inc.’s about $11 billion acquisition of Kite Pharma Inc. , Juno Therapeutics Inc. shares surged 16.3%, Bluebird Bio Inc. shares surged 9.7% and Cellectis SA ADR shares surged 11.8% in extremely heavy midday trade Monday. The Kite Pharma acquisition marks a large investment by Gilead into a cancer treatment called chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, or CAR-T, which uses a patient’s immune T-cells and re-engineers them to better fight cancer. Juno, Bluebird and Cellectis are other biotech companies working in CAR-T. BTIF analyst Dane Leone upgraded Juno on Monday, adding, “we continue to be skeptical of JUNO’s current competitive positioning, but upgrade our ranking to Neutral from Sell, as there is not a near term catalyst to offset the positive tailwind for the entire CAR T space.” Though there has been speculation about Celgene — which owns about 10% of Juno’s current shares outstanding — acquiring Juno, “we would be surprised” by a full acquisition, Leone said, since “at this juncture with emerging overlap in Multiple Myeloma and third to market status in CD19 hematological malignancies, we struggle to find a rationale for Celgene wanting to fully own Juno.” Kite Pharma shares surged 28% in extremely heavy morning trade. Shares have surged 144% over the last three months, compared with a 1% rise in the S&P 500 .
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