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In Two

Bluebird Bio is splitting into two companies, one focused on rare diseases and the other on cancer drugs, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Bluebird has been developing gene therapies, such ones to treat beta thalassemia, or adrenoleukodystrophy. Its beta thalassemia treatment, Zynteglo, was approved in 2019 by European Union regulators, but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed its rollout in Germany, according to the Journal. It further adds that the company had planned to seek US approval for the drug to treat sickle-cell disease, but that has been postponed due to manufacturing requirements from the Food and Drug Administration.

At the same time, the Journal notes Bluebird has been using similar technologies to develop cancer therapeutics. Until now, Bluebird CEO Nick Leschly, who will lead the new, as-yet-unnamed cancer company, tells the Journal it initially made sense to house the two efforts together, but that now more specialization is needed to bring the drugs to market.

Andrew Obenshain, who is in charge of severe genetic diseases at Bluebird, will become its chief executive, according to the Journal.