Johnson & Johnson companies proclaim cooperation with regional innovators
By Mia Burns (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Johnson & Johnson Innovation is embarking on numerous collaborations within Europe to coincide with the Celebration of Life Science Innovation’ event that the company’s London Innovation Centre has hosted. Company executives say that the London Innovation Centre is one of Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s four regional hubs that focus on identifying and accelerating the most promising early-stage science that will advance the development of new healthcare solutions.
Specifically, Janssen Biotech, a Johnson & Johnson company, is collaborating with the biotech Effimune for a global option and license agreement. The agreement provides for alliance among Effimune, the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centre, London, and the Janssen Immunology Therapeutic Area to focus on the development and commercialization of FR104, a monoclonal antibody fragment in preclinical development for the treatment of immune-mediated diseases.
A Johnson & Johnson spokesperson told R&D Pharma Business Connect, “FR104 is a pegylated Fab’ monoclonal antibody fragment inhibitor of CD28, an essential element of the T-cell signaling pathway. T-cells play an important role in controlling immune intolerance and, therefore, research in this area may help patients with autoimmune disease, such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, and patients undergoing transplantations.”
Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation has made an investment in Merus B.V., a private, venture-backed biopharmaceutical company based in Utrecht, The Netherlands that is building a pipeline of single-cell derived human bi-specific antibodies for cancer therapy. The company is developing antibodies that target both solid tumors and blood tumors and is the lead in a consortium effort to develop bi-specific antibodies targeting cancer stem cells with the aim of addressing the elusive problem of recurrent cancer. The investment aligns with the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies’ strategic interest in oncology, which focuses on several tumor types, including prostate, hematologic, lung and colorectal, to bring the most compelling science to bear in the development of transformational therapeutic solutions, according to executives. JJDC is participating in the extension of Series B funding as part of a syndicate that includes all the original Series B investors. JJDC is a strategic corporate venture capital fund whose investors are co-located with scientific teams in the regional innovation centers to collaborate closely on identifying investment opportunities.
“JJDCs specific investment was not disclosed,” says the company spokesperson. “The series B extension round that included existing investors was $42 million.”
The London Innovation Centre has also facilitated two vaccine research collaborations with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and the Crucell Vaccine Institute. Under one agreement with DCPrime B.V., Janssen will utilize DCPrime’s DCOne technology in feasibility studies for the development of a dendritic cell-based vaccine. In a second agreement, Crucell will collaborate with CureVac, on the development of a respiratory vaccine based on CureVac’s RNActive technology.
“We are delighted to advance a broad range of collaborations based on exciting early-stage science with the potential to lead to transformative products for patients,” said Patrick Verheyen, head of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centre, London. “Connecting innovators with the resources necessary to advance new products is central to our mission at Johnson & Johnson Innovation.”
Posted: October 2013