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.
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.