AbbVie acquires DJS Antibodies

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/callistaimages
Pic:getty/callistaimages

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AbbVie will acquire DJS Antibodies Ltd, a privately-held UK-based biotechnology company dedicated to discovering and developing antibody medicines that target difficult-to-drug disease-causing proteins.

The acquisition help the Chicago-headquartered company enhance their antibody research activities as well as gaining a ‘strong foothold’ in the UK research scene.

AbbVie will pay DJS shareholders approximately $255m in cash; with the potential of milestone payments related to the lead DJS-002 program.

IPF as first target

Founded in 2014, Oxford-based DJS Antibodies targets disease-causing proteins, such as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Its lead program is DJS-002, a potential first-in-class lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) receptor 1 (LPAR1) antagonist antibody currently in investigational preclinical studies for the treatment of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and other fibrotic diseases.

IPF is an aggressive, high mortality disease caused by fibrotic scarring in the lungs and remains an area of high unmet medical need, notes the company.

Furthermore, DJS's proprietary HEPTAD platform is a novel approach to antibody discovery with specific capabilities targeting transmembrane protein targets. AbbVie notes that a key benefit of the acquisition will be the access to the HEPTAD platform as a complement to its current robust capabilities in biotherapeutics research.

DJS, meanwhile, will leverage AbbVie's drug discovery expertise to continue generating antibody therapeutics and novel biology insights against targets like GPCRs, which have previously been intractable to biologics approaches.  

"We are excited to bring the innovative science behind DJS-002 and the talented team at DJS to AbbVie," ​said Jonathon Sedgwick, Ph.D., vice president and global head of discovery research, AbbVie.

"This acquisition will deliver new capabilities to enhance our current antibody research activities, an opportunity to strengthen our immunology portfolio, and provide a strong foothold for expanded research efforts in the dynamic bioscience hub in Oxford, UK."

AbbVie anticipates retaining all current DJS employees and its facility at the Heyford Park Innovation Centre in Oxford.

DJS is backed by founding investors Oxford Science Enterprises and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Ltd., along with LifeArc, Sedgwick Yard and Amgen Ventures.

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