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bluebird bio Announces Completion of First Cell Collection for LYFGENIA™ Gene Therapy

bluebird bio, Inc. (Nasdaq: BLUE) announced today that it has completed the first commercial cell collection for LYFGENIA (lovotibeglogene autotemcel), a one-time gene therapy for the treatment of sickle cell disease in patients with a history of vaso-occlusive events. LYFGENIA was approved by the FDA in December 2023 and is the most deeply studied gene therapy for sickle cell disease, with the longest follow-up in the field.

“Seeing people living with sickle cell disease receive gene therapy in the real world is a vision that has fueled bluebird for more than 10 years,” said Andrew Obenshain, president and CEO, bluebird bio. “This historic moment comes nearly a century after sickle cell disease was the first genetic disorder to be characterized at the molecular level, and almost a decade after bluebird initiated clinical development for LYFGENIA. We are grateful to the patients, caregivers, researchers, and clinicians whose work made this milestone possible, and look forward to continued partnership with the sickle cell disease community.”

The patient’s cells were collected at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, which is part of bluebird’s national network of more than 60 Qualified Treatment Centers (QTCs). QTCs are selected based on leading expertise in transplant, cell and gene therapy, and sickle cell disease and receive specialized training to administer LYFGENIA.

We are thrilled to be the first center in the country to commercially collect cells from a person living with sickle cell disease and are proud to be the trailblazers in using this new approach. The recent approval of gene therapies to treat patients with sickle cell is an enormous breakthrough in patient care and a silver lining to families witnessing their children’s struggles with this condition. In the face of immense burden, gene therapy is a groundbreaking treatment alternative and a beacon of hope for a better future,” said David Jacobsohn, MD, MBA, chief of the division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation at Children’s National Hospital.

About LYFGENIA™ (lovotibeglogene autotemcel) or lovo-cel

LYFGENIA is a one-time ex-vivo lentiviral vector gene therapy approved for the treatment of patients 12 years of age or older with sickle cell disease and a history of vaso-occlusive events (VOEs). LYFGENIA works by adding a functional β-globin gene to patients’ own hematopoietic (blood) stem cells (HSCs). Durable production of adult hemoglobin with anti-sickling properties (HbAT87Q) is possible following successful engraftment. HbAT87Q has a similar oxygen-binding affinity to wild-type HbA, limits sickling of red blood cells and has the potential to reduce VOEs.

The Phase 1/2 HGB-206 study of LYFGENIA is complete and the Phase 3 HGB-210 study evaluating LYFGENIA is ongoing. bluebird bio is also conducting a long-term safety and efficacy follow-up study (LTF-307) for patients with sickle cell disease who have been treated with LYFGENIA in bluebird bio-sponsored clinical studies.


LYFGENIA is indicated for the treatment of patients 12 years of age or older with sickle cell disease and a history of vaso-occlusive events (VOEs).

Limitations of Use

Following treatment with LYFGENIA, patients with α-thalassemia trait (-α3.7/-α3.7) may experience anemia with erythroid dysplasia that may require chronic red blood cell transfusions. LYFGENIA has not been studied in patients with more than two α-globin gene deletions.

Important Safety Information


Hematologic malignancy has occurred in patients treated with LYFGENIA. Monitor patients closely for evidence of malignancy through complete blood counts at least every 6 months and through integration site analysis at Months 6, 12, and as warranted.

Hematologic Malignancy

Hematologic malignancy has occurred in patients treated with LYFGENIA (Study 1, Group A). At the time of initial product approval, two patients treated with an earlier version of LYFGENIA using a different manufacturing process and transplant procedure (Study 1, Group A) developed acute myeloid leukemia (AML). One patient with α-thalassemia trait (Study 1, Group C) has been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

The additional hematopoietic stress associated with mobilization, conditioning, and infusion of LYFGENIA, including the need to regenerate the hematopoietic system, may increase the risk of a hematologic malignancy. Patients with sickle cell disease have an increased risk of hematologic malignancy as compared to the general population.

Patients treated with LYFGENIA may develop hematologic malignancies and should have lifelong monitoring. Monitor for hematologic malignancies with a complete blood count (with differential) at least every 6 months for at least 15 years after treatment with LYFGENIA, and integration site analysis at Months 6, 12, and as warranted.

In the event that a malignancy occurs, contact bluebird bio at 1-833-999-6378 for reporting and to obtain instructions on collection of samples for testing.

Post-Marketing Long Term Follow-Up Study: Patients who intend to receive treatment with LYFGENIA are encouraged to enroll in the study, as available, to assess the long-term safety of LYFGENIA and the risk of malignancies occurring after treatment with LYFGENIA by calling bluebird bio at 1-833-999-6378. The study includes monitoring (at pre-specified intervals) for clonal expansion.

Delayed Platelet Engraftment

Delayed platelet engraftment has been observed with LYFGENIA. Bleeding risk is increased prior to platelet engraftment and may continue after engraftment in patients with prolonged thrombocytopenia. Two patients (4%) required more than 100 days post treatment with LYFGENIA to achieve platelet engraftment.

Patients should be made aware of the risk of bleeding until platelet recovery has been achieved. Monitor patients for thrombocytopenia and bleeding according to standard guidelines. Conduct frequent platelet counts until platelet engraftment and platelet recovery are achieved. Perform blood cell count determination and other appropriate testing whenever clinical symptoms suggestive of bleeding arise.

Neutrophil Engraftment Failure

There is a potential risk of neutrophil engraftment failure after treatment with LYFGENIA. Neutrophil engraftment failure is defined as failure to achieve three consecutive absolute neutrophil counts (ANC) ≥ 0.5 × 109 cells/L obtained on different days by Day 43 after infusion of LYFGENIA. Monitor neutrophil counts until engraftment has been achieved. If neutrophil engraftment failure occurs in a patient treated with LYFGENIA, provide rescue treatment with the back-up collection of CD34+ cells.

Insertional Oncogenesis

There is a potential risk of lentiviral vector-mediated insertional oncogenesis after treatment with LYFGENIA.

Hypersensitivity Reactions

Allergic reactions may occur with the infusion of LYFGENIA. The dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) or dextran 40 in LYFGENIA may cause hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis.

Anti-retroviral Use

Patients should not take prophylactic HIV anti-retroviral medications for at least one month prior to mobilization and until all cycles of apheresis are completed. There are some long-acting anti-retroviral medications that may require a longer duration of discontinuation for elimination of the medication. If a patient is taking anti-retrovirals for HIV prophylaxis, confirm a negative test for HIV before beginning mobilization and apheresis of CD34+ cells.

Hydroxyurea Use

Patients should not take hydroxyurea for at least 2 months prior to mobilization and until all cycles of apheresis are completed. If hydroxyurea is administered between mobilization and conditioning, discontinue 2 days prior to initiation of conditioning.

Iron Chelation

Drug-drug interactions between iron chelators and the mobilization process and myeloablative conditioning agent must be considered. Iron chelators should be discontinued at least 7 days prior to initiation of mobilization or conditioning. Do not administer myelosuppressive iron chelators (e.g., deferiprone) for 6 months post-treatment with LYFGENIA. Non-myelosuppressive iron chelation should be restarted no sooner than 3 months after LYFGENIA infusion. Phlebotomy can be used in lieu of iron chelation, when appropriate.

Interference with PCR-based Testing

Patients who have received LYFGENIA are likely to test positive by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays for HIV due to integrated BB305 LVV proviral DNA, resulting in a possible false-positive PCR assay test result for HIV. Therefore, patients who have received LYFGENIA should not be screened for HIV infection using a PCR-based assay.

Adverse Reactions

The most common adverse reactions ≥ Grade 3 (incidence ≥ 20%) were stomatitis, thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, febrile neutropenia, anemia, and leukopenia.

Three patients died during LYFGENIA clinical trials; one from sudden cardiac death due to underlying disease and two from acute myeloid leukemia who were treated with an earlier version of LYFGENIA using a different manufacturing process and transplant procedure (Study 1, Group A).


Advise patients of the risks associated with myeloablative conditioning agents, including on pregnancy and fertility.

LYFGENIA should not be administered to women who are pregnant, and pregnancy after LYFGENIA infusion should be discussed with the treating physician.

LYFGENIA is not recommended for women who are breastfeeding, and breastfeeding after LYFGENIA infusion should be discussed with the treating physician.

Females and Males of Reproductive Potential

A negative serum pregnancy test must be confirmed prior to the start of mobilization and re-confirmed prior to conditioning procedures and before LYFGENIA administration.

Women of childbearing potential and men capable of fathering a child should use an effective method of contraception (intra-uterine device or combination of hormonal and barrier contraception) from start of mobilization through at least 6 months after administration of LYFGENIA.

Advise patients of the options for fertility preservation.

Please see full Prescribing Information for LYFGENIA including Boxed WARNING and Medication Guide.

About bluebird bio, Inc.

bluebird bio is pursuing curative gene therapies to give patients and their families more bluebird days.

Founded in 2010, bluebird has been setting the standard for gene therapy for more than a decade—first as a scientific pioneer and now as a commercial leader. bluebird has an unrivaled track record in bringing the promise of gene therapy out of clinical studies and into the real-world setting, having secured FDA approvals for three therapies in under two years. Today, we are proving and scaling the commercial model for gene therapy and delivering innovative solutions for access to patients, providers, and payers.

With a dedicated focus on severe genetic diseases, bluebird has the largest and deepest ex-vivo gene therapy data set in the field, with industry-leading programs for sickle cell disease, β-thalassemia and cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy. We custom design each of our therapies to address the underlying cause of disease and have developed in-depth and effective analytical methods to understand the safety of our lentiviral vector technologies and drive the field of gene therapy forward.

bluebird continues to forge new paths as a standalone commercial gene therapy company, combining our real-world experience with a deep commitment to patient communities and a people-centric culture that attracts and grows a diverse flock of dedicated birds.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements that are not statements of historical facts are, or may be deemed to be, forward-looking statements, such as statements regarding the therapeutic potential of LYFGENIA. Such forward-looking statements are based on historical performance and current expectations and projections about bluebird’s future goals, plans and objectives and involve inherent risks, assumptions and uncertainties, including internal or external factors that could delay, divert or change any of them in the next several years, that are difficult to predict, may be beyond bluebird’s control and could cause bluebird’s future goals, plans and objectives to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, the statements. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the many risks and uncertainties that affect bluebird bio’s business, particularly those identified in the risk factors discussion in bluebird bio’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022, as updated by its subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and other filings with the SEC. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: the risk that the efficacy and safety results from bluebird’s prior and ongoing clinical trials will not continue or be seen in the commercial context; the risk that there is not sufficient patient demand or payer reimbursement to support continued commercialization of LYFGENIA; the risk of insertional oncogenic or other safety events associated with lentiviral vector, drug product, or myeloablation, including the risk of hematologic malignancy; and the risk that bluebird’s products, including LYFGENIA, will not be successfully commercialized. The forward-looking statements included in this document are made only as of the date of this document and except as otherwise required by applicable law, bluebird bio undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise.


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