AbbVie Gains Access to Pulmonary Fibrosis Antibody with $225M DJS Buy

AbbVie_© AbbVie Inc. All rights reserved.

AbbVie_© AbbVie Inc. All rights reserved.

AbbVie is buying DJS Antibodies for $225 million in cash to gain access to the British company’s potential fibrotic diseases drug and antibody discovery program.

Under the terms of the deal, announced Thursday, DJS stockholders will be eligible for additional payments based on various developmental milestones related to DJS’ lead program, DJS-002. No additional financial details were disclosed.

In a statement, Jonathon Sedgwick, Ph.D., VP and global ahead of discovery research at AbbVie said the acquisition would deliver new capabilities to enhance the company’s current antibody research activities and strengthen its immunology portfolio.

The deal will also “provide a strong foothold for expanded research efforts in the dynamic bioscience hub in Oxford, U.K.,” Sedgwick added.

BioSpace has reached out to both companies for comment; none was received at press time.

DJS-002 is a potential first-in-class lysophosphatidic acid receptor 1 (LPAR1) antagonist antibody. It is in preclinical development to treat Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and other fibrotic diseases.

The drug targets a well-validated G Protein-Coupled Receptor. GPCRs are considered to be one of the largest families of validated drug targets. However, a 2021 article in Pharmenable noted there is “a common misconception … that GPCRs are easy targets for drug discovery.”

IPF is a highly severe disease that occurs when the alveoli in the lungs are damaged and become increasingly scarred. It typically affects people from 70 to 75 years of age and is considered an area of high unmet medical need.

The use of small molecules to treat IPF have been effective, DJS indicates on its website, but “have failed due to off-target safety liabilities.”

DJS-002 is the first antibody developed that specifically targets the desired pathway, giving treatment efficacy without unwanted side effects, the company noted.

DJS is also developing DJS-001, a first-in-class program targeting myeloid cell-driven inflammatory disease. Two additional products, DJS-003 and -004 are in the discovery phase.

Additionally, DJS’ proprietary HEPTAD discovery platform helps identify functional antibodies to GPCRs.

Antibody discovery is one of AbbVie’s areas of strength, with programs focused on developing and identifying monoclonal antibodies, so-called “degradomers” for targeted degradation, gene and cell therapies and small molecule development.

DJS will utilize AbbVie’s deep drug discovery expertise to continue creating antibody drugs and research insights against targets such as GPCR, according to the announcement.

AbbVie plans to retain all current DJS staffers as well as the company’s facility in Oxford, the company noted.

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