Chicago biotech sues venture capital firm, Bluebird Bio CEO over attempt to 'kill' rival medical treatment

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Errant Gene Therapeutics, a biotech company based in Chicago, is suing a venture capital firm and BlueBird Bio's CEO, claiming the two parties worked to 'kill' a competing medical treatment, according to The Boston Business Journal.

The lawsuit, filed last week in Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts, claims Third Rock Ventures and Bluebird Bio chief Nick Leschly worked to hinder Errant Gene's drug development efforts so it could easily obtain a viral-vector, used by biotech companies to get gene therapies into cells.

According to the lawsuit, Errant Gene purchased exclusive rights to a gene therapy drug being developed by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center researcher Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD, in 2005. Errant Gene alleges Third Rock sought to license the vector, which was a key component of the drug being developed by Dr. Sadelein, in 2010, but wouldn't agree to Errant Gene's terms.

After a series of business disputes, Errant Gene signed the vector rights back to New York City-based Memorial Sloan Kettering in 2011. The lawsuit claims that Third Rock had a relationship with Memorial Sloan's CEO Craig Thompson. As a result of that relationship, Third Rock was able to obtain the viral vector for Bluebird.

According to the lawsuit, Third Rock went through these actions solely to benefit its portfolio company, Bluebird. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that Memorial Sloan Kettering told potential partners that the vector didn't work and dragged their feet on testing Errant Gene's therapy.

The defendants' actions "follow a troubling pattern of tortious business practices undertaken by pharmaceutical companies to secretly and systematically 'kill' competing medical treatments," the lawsuit reads, according to the Business Journal.

The Chicago biotech company previously sued Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center over the stalled rare disease clinical trial.

Both Errant Gene and Bluebird are developing a treatment for the rare blood disease, beta thalassemia. Bluebird recently secured European approval for its drug for the blood disease.

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