J&J Inks $1.25B Deal to Buy Rights to Atopic Dermatitis Candidate from Numab

J&J Office in Spain_iStock, BrasilNut1

Pictured: J&J's office in Madrid, Spain/iStock, BrasilNut1

Johnson & Johnson is continuing its buying activity in the skin disease space, announcing Tuesday plans to purchase Yellow Jersey Therapeutics, a subsidiary of Numab Therapeutics, and its bispecific antibody NM26 for $1.25 billion in cash. 

NM26, which started Phase I dosing in 2023, is ready to enter Phase II studies and targets two pathways to treat the skin disease atopic dermatitis (AD) or eczema. The pathways are the IL-4R alpha subunit (IL-4Rα) and IL-31. Il-4Rα triggers Th2-mediated skin inflammation, while Il-31 impacts skin itching and eventual scratching that worsen the condition.

“We are committed to developing differentiated bispecifics that combine the targeting of two distinct disease-driving pathways. NM26 can potentially deliver a treatment specifically for patients with inflamed skin associated with intense itching,” David Lee, the global immunology therapeutic area head at J&J Innovative Medicine, said in a statement.

J&J contends the candidate could effectively treat other inflammatory skin diseases that involve Th2 inflammation and itching. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2024.

Earlier this month, J&J announced it purchased biotech Proteologix and its bispecific antibody for AD for $850 million in a cash deal and a preclinical antibody. The candidate PX128 targets interleukin 13 TSLP and is in a Phase I trial for AD. The preclinical asset that J&J also scooped up in the deal, PX130, targets Il-13 and Il-22 for moderate to severe AD. 

“Our goal is to deliver transformational efficacy for all patients living with immune mediated diseases like AD,” Candice Long, worldwide vice president of immunology at J&J, said in a statement. “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.”

Numab has forged partnerships with other pharmaceutical companies, such as a development and licensing agreement with Ono Pharmaceutical in March 2024 to find an immuno-oncology candidate. The Swiss biotech received CHF 258 million ($283 million) in upfront research and milestone payments in that deal. Numab has also entered into previous development agreements with Eisai and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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