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Centocor, Inc. (JNJ) Acquires RespiVert Ltd., Strengthens Pulmonary Focus


6/1/2010 6:36:15 AM

HORSHAM, Pa., June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. today announced that it has acquired RespiVert Ltd., a privately held drug discovery company focused on developing small-molecule, inhaled therapies for the treatment of pulmonary diseases. The company's lead compounds, RV-568 and RV-1088, narrow spectrum kinase inhibitors with a unique profile of anti-inflammatory activities, are progressing into clinical development as potential first-in-class treatments for moderate to severe asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Cystic Fibrosis (CF). The clinical development of RV-568 and RV-1088 will be led by RespiVert in collaboration with scientists at Centocor Research and Development, Inc. The company is not disclosing financial terms.

"The RespiVert compounds offer the potential for a new class of medicines for patients with severe lung disease who are insensitive to inhaled corticosteroids," said Susan Dillon, Ph.D., Global Therapeutic Area Head, Immunology, Centocor Research and Development, Inc. "The addition of RespiVert's expert scientific team and discovery platforms for inhaled medicines strengthens our capabilities and further builds our pipeline of novel oral and biologic therapies for serious pulmonary diseases."

With the acquisition of RespiVert, Centocor Ortho Biotech gains a portfolio of first-in-class, early-stage inhaled treatments for serious lung diseases. RespiVert will continue to maintain its research and discovery presence in London from the Imperial BioIncubator, which is based at the campus of Imperial College London. RespiVert employees will continue to lead ongoing research and drug discovery efforts.

Dr. Garth Rapeport, Chief Executive Officer of RespiVert, who is remaining with RespiVert following the acquisition, said, "We believe that our focused discovery efforts in pulmonary disease offer a unique opportunity to bring completely new treatment options to patients who suffer from severe, chronic respiratory diseases including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, severe asthma and Cystic Fibrosis."

About Asthma, COPD, and CF

Severe or uncontrolled asthma is associated with significant morbidity, resulting in missed work and school days, and substantial limitation of activity, adversely impacting quality of life in asthmatics. Severe asthma represents a particular societal burden, with sources suggesting that half of the total cost of asthma in the United States is attributable to severe disease. Asthma is the cause of over 4,000 deaths each year in the U.S. and over 12,000 in Europe.

COPD is an umbrella term for a group of lung diseases which include chronic bronchitis, emphysema and small airways disease. COPD is a serious, chronic disorder characterized by a slowly progressive decline in lung function with symptoms such as chronic cough and dyspnea significantly impacting quality of life. COPD is estimated to cause 130,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

CF is an inherited life-threatening disease involving a genetic mutation that disrupts the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) protein, resulting in poorly hydrated, thickened mucous secretions in the lungs and digestive tract. Due to these changes, the lungs of individuals with cystic fibrosis are colonized and infected by bacteria from an early age. This leads to progressive and severe lung inflammation which is difficult to treat.

About Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc.

Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. redefines the standard of care in immunology, nephrology and oncology. The company was formed when Centocor, Inc. and Ortho Biotech Inc. were consolidated in late 2008, and was renamed Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. Built upon a pioneering history, Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. harnesses innovations in large-molecule and small-molecule research to create important new therapeutic options. Beyond its innovative medicines, Centocor Ortho Biotech is at the forefront of developing education and public policy initiatives to ensure patients and their families, caregivers, advocates and healthcare professionals have access to the latest treatment information, support services and quality care. For more information about Centocor Ortho Biotech, visit www.CentocorOrthoBiotech.com. Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. and Centocor Research and Development Inc. are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson.

About RespiVert

RespiVert is a small molecule drug discovery company working towards the identification of new treatments for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and severe asthma. The more severe forms of these diseases are poorly responsive to existing therapies such as inhaled corticosteroids and new disease modifying treatments are urgently required. RespiVert has been financed by Advent Venture Partners, Fidelity Biosciences, Imperial Innovations and SV Life Sciences.

Forward-looking statements

(This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on current expectations of future events. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or unknown risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results could vary materially from Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc.'s and/or Johnson & Johnson's expectations and projections. Risks and uncertainties include general industry conditions and competition; economic conditions, such as interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; technological advances and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approvals; domestic and foreign health care reforms and governmental laws and regulations; and trends toward health care cost containment. A further list and description of these risks, uncertainties and other factors can be found in Exhibit 99 of Johnson & Johnson's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended January 3, 2010. Copies of this Form 10-K, as well as subsequent filings, are available online at www.sec.gov, www.jnj.com or on request from Johnson & Johnson. Neither Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. nor Johnson & Johnson undertake to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information or future events or developments.)

SOURCE Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. Back to top

RELATED LINKS http://www.centocororthobiotech.com

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