Philadelphia-based Janssen Biotech, Inc., a biotechnology company with a focus on developing diagnostic assays using monoclonal antibody technology, has just signed a strategic licensing agreement with Vedanta Biosciences, an expert in microbiology and immunology. The agreement covers licensing terms for Vedanta’s flagship microbiome drug candidate for autoimmune diseases, VE202, and stipulates that Janssen proceed with development and subsequent commercialization, in close collaboration with the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in Boston. Prelinical studies for VE202 have demonstrated its potential as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treatment, among other autoimmune conditions simulated in animal models.
“For us at Janssen, the human microbiome is a strategic area of research and development and we have formed a number of exciting biotech and academic collaborations in this promising scientific space,” said Sue Dillon, Global Therapeutic Area Head, Immunology, Janssen Research & Development, LLC. “Today, we are excited to license a potential microbiome pharmaceutical candidate for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.”
According to the contract, Vedanta is entitled to an up-front payment, followed by development and commercialization milestone payments for VE202’s IBD indication, expected to reach a total of $241 million, subject to certain commercialization adjustments. Vedanta will continue to handle research and development for VE202’s other potential indications, with the possibility of a new collaboration with Janssen for additional disease indications.
“Janssen is a leader in the field of inflammatory bowel disease,” said Michael Elliott, Vice President of Immunology Scientific Innovation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Boston. “Janssen pioneered the use of anti-TNF antibodies in IBD, and has other medicines in development in this disease area. The new program from Vedanta will complement these efforts, with potential to further improve disease control and treatment for patients in the future.”
This new partnership is a result of a June 2013 investment in Vedanta by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, which launched a close collaboration between the two companies to find a new solution for IBD. “We are excited by the rapid progress of our collaboration with Vedanta,” said Robert G. Urban, Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Boston. “Johnson & Johnson Innovation is solely focused on novel and highly impactful approaches to help patients. Today’s announcement follows our initial investment and represents Janssen’s first in-licensing of a potential first-in-class microbiome therapeutic; a significant milestone that may lead to exciting new treatment options for people living with IBD.”