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J&J Strengthens Its Respiratory Pipeline

by Lisa M. Jarvis
June 7, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 23

Johnson & Johnson has snapped up several small-molecule assets to bolster its respiratory drug pipeline. J&J subsidiary Centocor Ortho Biotech acquired RespiVert, a privately held British biotech firm that designs inhaled therapies for respiratory diseases. J&J gains access to RV-568 and RV-1088, both narrow-spectrum kinase inhibitors that are poised to enter clinical studies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Imperial Innovations, one of four funds that financed the biotech, said the sale of its 13.4% stake brought in about $14 million. RespiVert was formed by a group of former GlaxoSmithKline scientists. In a separate deal, J&J will work with Swedish biotech Orexo to develop drugs for asthma, chronic-obstructive pulmonary disorder, and other inflammatory diseases. Orexo snags $21.5 million in research funding over the first three years of the pact, along with an up-front payment of $10 million. J&J gets an exclusive license to two existing preclinical programs, OX-CLI and OX-ESI; both compounds are based on Orexo’s research around the arachidonic acid cascade. During the inflammatory process, arachidonic acid is released and converted into a host of biological mediators, including leukotrienes, which cause asthmatic symptoms.


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