Janssen in $365m licensing deal to develop prostate cancer drugs

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Janssen licenses LADD platform, which uses Listeria monocytogenes strains to induce a potent innate immune response, from Aduro BioTech
Janssen licenses LADD platform, which uses Listeria monocytogenes strains to induce a potent innate immune response, from Aduro BioTech

Related tags Cancer

Janssen has licensed the LADD immunotherapy platform and GVAX cell-line technology from Aduro BioTech in order to develop combination therapies for a number of prostate cancer candidates.

Aduro will receive up to $365m (€270m) in upfront fees and milestone payments from Janssen who is looking to develop prostate cancer candidates using the Berkeley, California-based biotech's LADD (live-attenuated double-deleted) platform.

According to Aduro CEO Stephen Isaacs, the LADD platform helps the immune system recognize cancer cells and strengthen its response so that it will destroy them by using engineered Listeria monocytogenes​ strains to induce a potent innate immune response.

Furthermore, he told Biopharma-Reporter.com, “LADD is engineered to look enough like one part of a tumour cell that the immune system learns to attack the tumour,”​ with the platform working “to rally/harness the effect of the immune system.”

“The immunotherapy essentially teaches the body’s natural defense system that cancer is present, and the body mounts a response against the cancer.”

Complementary Approach

At the same time, Janssen has also  licensed Aduro’s GVAX technology - vaccines derived from human cancer cell lines, genetically modified to secrete an immune-stimulatory cytokine – exclusively for prostate cancer candidates, as part of what Isaacs told us was a “complementary approach to training the immune system to attack tumours.”

“GVAX and LADD have been shown to be synergistic in preclinical models, in which the combination is more effective than either agent alone,” ​he said. “In addition, the combination of GVAX and LADD was shown to be more effective in our Phase 2 trial in patients with pancreatic cancer than GVAX alone.”

He continued, telling us combination therapy is a growing trend in oncology. “Oncology and immunotherapy are moving more and more toward combination therapy and the LADD platform’s safety profile makes it a good candidate for combination therapy.”

Aduro will retain the rights to its platforms for its core programmes in metastatic pancreatic cancer, mesothelioma and glioblastoma, but Isaacs told us Janssen’s had both the resources and expertise to invest in development for prostate cancer specifically.

“We talked to a number of pharmaceutical companies, and believe that Janssen, with its focus on prostate cancer therapies, was the right partner to move this program forward in an expeditious manner and one that saw the value and potential of our technologies.”

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