Bluebird bio soars after drug developer details research into genetic blood disease treatment

Associated Press

Shares of Bluebird Bio soared more than 60 percent before markets opened Tuesday after the drug developer said early research into its treatment for a serious genetic blood condition showed promise.

Four patients treated with the treatment labeled LentiGlobin BB305 produced enough of the oxygen-carrying component of the blood known as hemoglobin to reduce or eliminate the need for transfusions, the company said late Monday.

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The patients in the study have a form of beta-thalassemia, a potentially fatal condition in which their bodies cannot make enough of the beta-globin part of hemoglobin. Current treatments for the disease involve frequent and lifelong blood transfusions, which leads to an excessive iron build up in the body that can cause a host of complications.

About 40,000 children are born with a serious form of the disease every year, according to Bluebird.

LentiGlobin BB305 aims to treat beta-thalassemia and severe sickle cell disease by inserting a functional beta-globin gene into a patient's cells, and then transplanting them back into the patient through an infusion.

Bluebird Bio Inc., based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, held an initial public offering of its stock last year and has no products on the market.

Its stock climbed more than 9 percent Monday to close at $48.89. The shares then jumped $30.32 to $79.21 Tuesday in premarket trading Tuesday.

The shares have nearly tripled in price since closing at $26.91 on their first trading day.