Janssen acquires Fynomer mAb platform in Covagen buy-out

By Fiona Barry

- Last updated on GMT

Johnson & Johnson headquarters in Madrid, Spain
Johnson & Johnson headquarters in Madrid, Spain

Related tags: Immune system

Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen has acquired monoclonal antibody (mAb) platform FynomAb through its purchase of private Swiss biopharma company Covagen.

The platform fuses human Fynomer-binding proteins to antibodies to produce FynomAbs, which are bispecific antibodies capable of binding – for example – tumour cells and immune system cells.

Brian Kenney, Janssen’s senior director of Global Immunology & Biotechnology, told BioPharma-Reporter.com the company chose Covagen’s tech because “we see the Fynomer and FynomAb platforms as advancing our capabilities in the generation of tetravalent and other multivalent antibody-Fynomer fusions.​”

Covagen’s lead product candidate is a bispecific anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha/anti-interleukin (IL)-17A named COVA 322. The compound is designed to control inflammation by blocking two key cytokines and is in a Phase Ib study for psoriasis.

Janssen said it plans to use the FynomAb platform to explore multi-specific biologic candidates across several therapeutic areas.

Pipeline continues

Janssen said Covagen will maintain a research presence in Zurich-Schlieren, Switzerland, developing its pipeline and developing further applications for the FynomAb platform.

"Janssen's tremendous knowledge in the research and development of biologics provides us with a great environment to develop novel FynomAb-based therapeutics addressing unmet medical needs,​" said Julian Bertschinger, Covagen co-founder and, until the takeover, CEO.

The deal was made through the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centre in London. The company’s Innovation Centres, also in California, Boston and Shanghai, identify scientific innovation for potential partnerships and facilitate these deals.

Covagen was co-founded in 2007 by Julian Bertschinger, and Dragan Grabulovski as a spin-off company of ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

Janssen’s biopharmaceutical products have received attention recently, with the company licensing a LADD (live-attenuated double-deleted) immunotherapy platform​ from AduroBioTech to develop combination therapies for prostate cancer candidates.

Meantime, Janssen’s patents on anti-flammatory biologic Remicade were challenged by Celtrion​ in a lawsuit in April 2014.

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