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J&J buys into Alligator's immuno-oncology candidate

Will spend $700m on the early-stage cancer deal

J&J 

Johnson & Johnson has made a late entry into the immuno-oncology sector by licensing an early-stage drug from Sweden's Alligator Bioscience in a $700m deal.

The agreement gives J&J's Janssen subsidiary access to Alligator's CD40-targeting antibody ADC-1013, which is designed to boost the ability of T lymphocytes to attack tumours, and is in phase I trials.

In return, Alligator is getting an undisclosed upfront fee stands to receive milestone payments that could drive the value of the deal up to $700m.

Janssen will be responsible for developing ADC-1013 and will assume responsibility for the clinical studies once the current Phase I dose escalation study is complete.

J&J is coming from behind in the immuno-oncology field, which focuses on drugs that improve patients' immune responses to cancer rather than trying to kill tumour cells directly. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co already have drugs on the market, while AstraZeneca, Roche and Pfizer/Merck KGaA with candidates in the latter stages of development.

The new agreement stems from J&J's decision to set up a series of innovation centres in biopharma hot spots around the world in order to forge closer ties with academia and small companies. In this case, the collaboration was facilitated by J&J's London centre.

"ADC-1013 is a great addition to our growing immuno-oncology portfolio, which includes a broad range of approaches in both solid tumours and hematologic malignancies," said Janssen's oncology R&D head Peter Lebowitz.

"We were very impressed with the properties of this antibody and we are excited to continue the development that will ultimately deliver it to patients."

Earlier this week, J&J licensed rights to a technology used in the development of another hot area in immuno-oncology - chimeric antigen receptor therapies (CAR-T) to Poseida Therapeutics.

The centyrin technology involved in the deal was developed at Janssen Biotech and takes the form of scaffold molecules that can be engineered to bind to target proteins.

Poseida wants to screen the molecules for activity against three cancer antigens, including one being developed as part of an autologous CAR-T therapy to treat multiple myeloma.

Article by
Phil Taylor

13th August 2015

From: Research

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