News Feature | August 27, 2014

Janssen To Acquire Covagen And FynomAb Technology

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Janssen announced that its affiliate Cilag GmbH International has acquired Covagen, a biopharmaceutical form focused on developing multi-specific protein therapeutics through the FynomAb technology platform.

Covagen is developing its lead product COVA 322 in a Phase IB study for the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. COVA 322 is a bispecific anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha/anti-interleukin (IL)-17A FynomAb, a multi-specific protein therapeutic made by fusing fully human Fynomer binding proteins to antibodies. Fynomers are small binding proteins designed to target and bind to molecules. The proteins are engineered to have the same specificity and affinity as antibodies. The company said that FynomAb therapeutics may increase efficacy of treatments for inflammatory diseases.

Susan Dillon, global therapeutic area head of Immunology at Janssen R&D, said, “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 multi-specific biologics for immunologic and other diseases.” Dillon added that the company aims to advance immunology science breakthroughs into next-generation therapies.

Covagen will maintain its facilities and research presence in Zurich-Schlieren, Switzerland. The company will also work on further development and application of its proprietary Fynomer technology. “We are very excited to further develop our pipeline and innovative FynomAb platform as part of Janssen. 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,” said Julian Bertschinger, co-founder and former CEO of Covagen.

No financial terms of the agreement were disclosed by either company.