Janssen Biotech, Inc., one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, has signed a license agreement with Vedanta Biosciences to acquire the rights for an investigational therapeutic alternative for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), as announced by the companies in a recent press release. The novel IBD drug has been developed by Vedanta and is expected to modify the way in which the body’s immune system and microbes interact with one another.
The transaction between the two companies may provide Vedanta with up to $241 million of capital, which includes not only the acquisition rights for the experimental treatment VE202, but also an upfront payment and additional ones in case of approval of the medication for the treatment of conditions like ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s disease.
Even though VE202 has yet to be tested in human trials, the experimental therapy has revealed its efficacy in previous preclinical studies conducted in both animals and models of autoimmune diseases. Johnson & Johnson will now continue the development of the drug and will be in charge of clinical testing from now on, with the purpose of commercializing it as soon as possible.
“The recent enthusiasm around the microbiome needs to be directed to translational research to truly fulfill the potential of the field. We chose our lead candidate because it had such robust data supporting its profound role in human biology,” explained the co-founder and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Vedanta, Ruslan Medzhitov, who is also a professor at Yale University.
Johnson & Johnson has been focused on developing therapeutic options for IBD patients, as well as other immune conditions, with their medical products Remicade, Simponi and Stelara. In addition, Johnson & Johnson Innovation had granted an initial investment to Vedanta in June 2013. At that time, the two companies have left the door open to continue their collaborative work and develop other drugs to treat additional disorders.
In addition to drug therapies, Janssen Biotech has also recently launched an educational campaign, in collaboration with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), focused on IBD patients, called Get Your Full Course. With the purpose of providing information on nutrition and IBD management, the course is hosted by television personality and celebrity cook Sunny Anderson, who speaks for the first time publicly about her struggle with UC.