Flurry of venture deals hits biopharma ahead of JPMorgan healthcare conference
- Johnson & Johnson Innovation on Thursday unveiled 21 new consumer, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals collaborations in addition to an exclusive licensing agreement with Chia Tai Tianqing Pharmaceutical Group (CTTQ) focusing on liver diseases, especially Hepatitis B.
- Continuing the wide range of deals, C4 Therapeutics launched with $73 million in Series A financing, and a potentially $750 million collaboration with Roche.
- Two new biotechs working on Alzheimer's treatments also announced the closing of Series A and Series D rounds of funding, respectively.
Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the parent company's venture arm, and Janssen jointly joined a collaboration with CTTQ to develop and manufacture immune-modulating agents targeting the Hepatitis B virus. Based in Lianyungang, China, CTTQ has specialized in liver disease research. (Read more in depth about J&J's infectious disease focus here.)
Thirteen of the collaborations announced focus on research in HIV, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. For instance, Janssen and the University of California, San Diego will collaborate on research into new treatments for Chagas disease.
Chagas is a rare tropical disease recently brought into the headlines by former KaloBios CEO Martin Shkreli. Shkreli hoped to secure the rights to one of two medications for the disease, and leverage that into a valuable priority review voucher from the FDA. However, following his arrest of securities fraud, KaloBios terminated him as CEO and has now filed for bankruptcy. With this new Janssen-UCSD collaboration, new treatments may soon be in the pipeline.
In another major announcement, C4 Therapeutics announced its launch from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute with $73 million in Series A funding. C4 is working on treatments using targeted protein degradation to find and kill disease-causing proteins. Roche jumped in with a potential $750 million collaboration deal to explore the possibilities unlocked by C4's research.
C4's approach is garnering a lot of attention because the therapies could have the capability to attack proteins unreachable by drugs. Targeted protein degradation stimulates the body's ubiquitin-proteasome system (UBS), which typically repairs damaged cells. By tagging disease-causing proteins, C4 hopes to prompt the UBS into eliminating them.
Finally, among the whirlwind of deals struck ahead of JP Morgan, two biotechs separately announced funding for development of Alzheimer's disease treatments.
Alector raised $29.5 million in Series D funding from its existing backers along with new joiners Amgen Ventures and AbbVie. Alector has been developing immuno-modulatory therapies for Alzheimer's. Earlier this year, the biotech closed a Series C round of $32 million.
In a Series A round, Cortexyme brought in $15 million from Pfizer and Takeda Pharma for development of other Alzheimer's treatments.
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