Cilag GmbH International, an affiliate of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, announced today that it has acquired Covagen AG, a privately-held, biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of multispecific protein therapeutics through the FynomAb technology platform. The opportunity was identified and facilitated through the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in London. The company’s lead product, COVA 322, a bispecific anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha/anti-interleukin (IL)-17A FynomAb, is in Phase 1b 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. The tailored architecture and novel mode of action of FynomAb therapeutics may offer enhanced efficacy in the treatment of a broad range of inflammatory diseases and other conditions. 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 Research & Development, LLC. “Our interest in Covagen stems from the company’s scientific acumen, their novel FynomAb platform, and the potential of COVA 322, a bispecific designed to achieve better control of inflammation by blocking two key cytokines that have been implicated in disease pathogenesis and progression. We look forward to progressing COVA 322 development, and to further expanding the potential of multispecific biologics for immunologic and other diseases. This exciting opportunity underscores the value of co-locating scientific innovation leads at our regional hubs in thriving life science communities as part of our strategy to identify and realize new opportunities and build long-term competitive advantage.
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. “We are very excited to further develop our pipeline and innovative FynomAb platform as part of Janssen,” said Julian Bertschinger, Ph.D., co-founder and former CEO of Covagen. “Janssen’s tremendous knowledge in the research and development of biologics provides us with a great environment to develop novel FynomAb-based therapeutics addressing unmet medical needs.” Covagen was co-founded in 2007 by Julian Bertschinger, Ph.D., and Dragan Grabulovski, Ph.D. as a spin-off company of ETH Zurich, Switzerland.