The Seattle biotechnology company’s shares soared in after-hours trading following the report, which the company has not commented on. Celgene agreed in 2015 to a far-reaching financial and research deal with Juno.

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Juno Therapeutics shares surged in after-hours trading after The Wall Street Journal reported that Celgene was in talks to buy the Seattle-based drugmaker.

Shares of Juno, a leader in the effort to use the immune system to treat cancer, rose more than 44 percent to $65.72 a share after hours. The company had a market value of roughly $5.2 billion as of the close of regular trading on Tuesday.

Celgene already owns 11.1 million shares, or 9.7 percent of Juno, making it the largest single stockholder, according to the S&P Capital IQ database.

If a deal is reached, it would continue a recent string of acquisitions by Celgene, which is under pressure to find ways to offset generic competition for top-selling cancer treatment Revlimid. Late last year, the biotechnology giant pared back its closely watched outlook for 2020 profits, sparking a steep sell-off in its shares.

Celgene, based in Summit, New Jersey, agreed last week to buy closely held Impact Biomedicines for $1.1 billion upfront, gaining an experimental blood-cancer treatment. The value of that deal could climb to as much as $7 billion over time if the drug reaches certain milestones.

Juno spokesman Chris Williams said the company doesn’t comment on market rumors or speculation. Celgene didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Juno is among the companies pursuing a new kind of treatment, called CAR-T, that genetically modifies the body’s own immune cells to direct them against the hostile cancer cells.

Its CAR-T cell therapy for aggressive B cell Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, is Juno’s most promising product.

Many oncologists expect CAR-T cell therapies to completely change the standard treatment for certain types of cancer in the next few years.

Juno and Celgene already have a partnership. Celgene agreed to pay Juno about $1 billion in 2015 as a part of a 10-year deal to study cures for cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Celgene has “been talking about its needs to do deals, its needs to grow its revenue,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Asthika Goonewardene in a telephone interview.

A takeover of Juno, if it comes at as hefty a premium as the stock-market activity in the wake of the Journal report suggests, would rank among Celgene’s largest-ever deals.

In 2015, Celgene acquired Receptos Inc. for $7.2 billion, gaining an experimental treatment called ozanimod being tested in Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and multiple sclerosis.

Celgene shares fell about 1.7 percent in late trading. As of the close of trading on Tuesday, the stock was about 28 percent below its peak in October of last year.

Analysts and investors have speculated that changes to the tax code will entice U.S.-based companies to bring back cash from abroad and spur merger and acquisition activity in 2018. Last year was the slowest since 2013 in terms of biopharmaceutical merger volume.

Shares of Bluebird Bio, another firm researching CAR-T treatments, rose 7.7 percent late Tuesday, on speculation that the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm could also be a potential takeover target. 

Celgene and Bluebird Bio also have a partnership agreement to develop therapies that target proteins linked to blood cancers like multiple myeloma.

Bluebird Bio spokeswoman Elizabeth Pingpank said the company doesn’t comment on merger rumors.