Johnson & Johnson obtains rights to clinical-stage bispecific antibody for atopic dermatitis

Johnson & Johnson has entered into a definitive agreement with Numab Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company advancing a pipeline of immunology and oncology therapeutics, to acquire from Numab’s shareholders its wholly-owned subsidiary for the global rights to a novel, investigational first-in-class bispecific antibody, NM26, in an all-cash transaction of approximately $1.25 billion.

NM26, which is ready to enter Phase 2 studies, targets two clinically proven pathways, IL-4R alpha subunit (IL-4Rα) and IL-31, in atopic dermatitis (AD). Atopic dermatitis, the most common inflammatory skin disease, is highly heterogeneous with different disease-driving mechanisms in distinct patient subpopulations. NM26 targets IL-4Rα, which triggers Th2-mediated skin inflammation, and IL-31, which impacts skin itch and subsequent scratching that worsen the disease. In addition to potentially transforming the standard of care for AD, NM26 could also be efficacious in other inflammatory skin diseases involving Th2 inflammation and itch.

“To deliver durable, symptom-free remission for the millions of people living with AD, our medicines need to be tailored to target multiple disease-driving pathways in different patient subpopulations,” said David Lee, Global Immunology Therapeutic Area Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine. “That’s why we are committed to developing differentiated bispecifics that combine the targeting of two distinct disease-driving pathways. NM26 has the potential to deliver a treatment specifically for patients who have inflamed skin associated with intense itching.”

People living with AD experience inflamed skin that can be associated with itch and subsequent scratching, which causes skin pain, skin abrasions that increase risk of infection, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, stress, depression and even an increased risk of suicide. Current therapies fall short of delivering durable, symptom-free remission, with approximately 70% of patients not achieving remission in what is the most common inflammatory skin disease.

“Our goal is to deliver transformational efficacy for all patients living with immune mediated diseases like AD,” said Candice Long, Worldwide Vice President, Immunology, Johnson & Johnson. “Our investment in differentiated bispecifics is the next chapter in our impactful Immunology legacy. It reinforces our commitment to address unmet medical needs by leveraging patient insights and our deep disease expertise.”

The closing of the transaction is expected to occur in the second half of 2024, following clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

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