Cilag International, a Switzerland-based affiliate of Janssen Pharmaceutical, a division of Johnson & Johnson, has acquired Covagen, a privately held biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of multi-specific protein therapeutics through the FynomAb technology platform.
The opportunity was identified and facilitated through the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in London. Covagen’s lead product, COVA 322, a bi-specific anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha/anti-interleukin (IL)-17A FynomAb, is in a phase Ib study for psoriasis and holds potential as a treatment for a broad range of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis.
Covagen develops FynomAbs, multi-specific protein therapeutics, by fusing its fully human Fynomer binding proteins to antibodies. Fynomers are small binding proteins engineered to bind to target molecules with the same affinity and specificity as antibodies. Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.
“Our goal is to translate advancements in immunology science into next-generation therapies that improve patient outcomes,” said Susan B. Dillon, Ph.D., global therapeutic area head, immunology, Janssen R&D. “Our interest in Covagen stems from the company’s scientific acumen, its novel FynomAb platform and the potential of COVA 322, a bi-specific designed to achieve better control of inflammation by blocking two key cytokines that have been implicated in disease pathogenesis and progression.”
Covagen will maintain a research presence in Zurich-Schlieren, Switzerland, and will continue to focus on the further development and application of the Fynomer technology.
Covagen was co-founded in 2007 by Bertschinger and Dragan Grabulovski, Ph.D., as a spin-off of ETH Zurich. Cilag International was founded in 1984 as the supply chain coordination center for the pharmaceuticals sector in Zug. Today it supports activities for numerous Swiss companies in the pharmaceutical, consumer and medical device and diagnostics segments of J&J.