XBiotech has agreed to offload its human antibody bermekimab to Janssen Biotech, a subsidiary of Janssen Pharmaceutical Company of Johnson & Johnson, in a deal worth up to $1.35bn.
According to XBiotech, bermekimab has been designed to neutralise interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1⍺), which is known for promoting disease-causing inflammation in a wide variety of medical conditions.
As per the terms of the deal, Janssen will acquire all rights to the human antibody, while XBiotech can use its True Human Antibody discovery programme to develop new antibody therapeutics that target IL-1⍺ for the treatment of non-dermatological diseases.
Bermekimab is currently in phase 2 development for the treatment of atopic dermatitis and hidradenitis suppurativa. According to Janssen, it is the only IL-1⍺-targeting antibody that is in clinical development as of now and having the potential for superior efficacy and safety compared to the available standard of care.
Under a supply agreement, XBiotech will use its manufacturing technology to manufacture clinical supplies of bermekimab for Janssen after completion of the deal. Janssen will be responsible for the clinical programme and will work closely with XBiotech, which will complete the ongoing phase 2 studies of the drug.
Janssen Research & Development immunology therapeutic area head David Lee said: “The acquisition of bermekimab allows us to build on our expertise in immuno-dermatology, while expanding to atopic dermatitis and hidradenitis suppurativa, immune-mediated disease areas that have incredible unmet need.”
XBiotech will be paid $750m from Janssen at the closing of the deal, and up to $600m in the future, depending on the drug’s milestones.
The company expects to generate further revenue from the manufacturing supply agreement and clinical services agreement with Janssen in the next two years.
XBiotech said that it will use part of the proceeds from the transaction to support the discovery and development of its True Human anti-IL-1⍺ antibody programme. A part of the revenue will also be used for advancing its other antibody therapeutics.
XBiotech president and CEO John Simard said: “The acquisition of bermekimab provides further validation of the foundational science behind targeting IL-1a as a means to block disease-causing inflammation.
“Clinical and pre-clinical research suggests blocking IL-1a may be used to treat a number of chronic and acute inflammatory conditions, including skin disease, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, rheumatological disease, gastrointestinal diseases, and cancer.”
The deal is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act among other customary closing conditions and is anticipated to be closed following the HSR approval.