J&J Buys Proteologix for $850M, Bispecific Antibodies for Atopic Dermatitis

16 May 2024
Clinical ResultAcquisitionImmunotherapyPhase 3Phase 1
Pictured: Johnson & Johnson Business Center in Switzerland/iStock, yuelan Johnson & Johnson is expanding its dermatology portfolio with an $850 million cash deal. The pharma giant announced Thursday its acquisition of privately-held biotech Proteologix, adding bispecific antibody assets for atopic dermatitis to its pipeline. Proteologix’s PX128 is a bispecific antibody targeting interleukin 13 plus TSLP. The antibody is Phase I-ready for severe atopic dermatitis (AD) and moderate to severe asthma. Another preclinical antibody, PX130, targets IL-13 plus IL-22 for moderate to severe AD. Targeting dual pathways is expected to increase efficacy, according to J&J, and both candidates are designed for convenient, infrequent dosing intervals. “Together, these pipeline additions demonstrate a strategic approach to build a portfolio of differentiated and complementary bispecifics,” J&J said in its announcement of the deal. In addition to the $850 million in cash, California-based Proteologix will also be eligible for an additional milestone payment. J&J will also scoop up other bispecific antibody programs in the acquisition. Subject to antitrust clearance and other customary closing conditions, the deal is expected to close in mid-2024. “Atopic dermatitis is the most common inflammatory skin disease, impacting more than 100 million adults worldwide,” David Lee, global immunology therapeutic area head at J&J, said in a statement, noting that roughly 70% of patients on standard-of-care medicines do not achieve remission. “We see an opportunity for best-in-disease efficacy for both PX128 and PX130 as each bispecific antibody targets two different combinations of disease driving pathways that are mediating the skin inflammation in heterogenous subpopulations of AD patients.” In March 2024, Eli Lilly reported Phase IIIb results of its IL-13 targeting monoclonal antibody in moderate-to-severe AD. The trial was specifically designed for people of color, a group which is disproportionately affected by the condition. Initial 16-week data showed over two-thirds of participants on lebrikizumab experienced improvement of at least 75% in disease extent and severity. After an FDA rejection in October 2023 due to on-site issues with its third-party contract manufacturer, Lilly resubmitted its BLA for lebrikizumab in April 2024. A decision is expected later this year. In June 2023, MilliporeSigma announced that Proteologix was selected as the North American winner of its 12th Advance Biotech Grant program, noting that the startup was “selected for its robust pipeline targeting autoimmune/inflammatory diseases and oncology indications that affect a large patient population.” Kate Goodwin is a freelance life science writer based in Des Moines, Iowa. She can be reached at kate.goodwin@biospace.com and on LinkedIn.
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