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GEN News Highlights : Jun 1, 2010

Centocor Snaps Up Inhaled Respiratory Therapeutics Firm RespiVert

Young company aims to develop products that address resistance of lung diseases to inhaled corticosteroids.

Centocor Ortho Biotech has gained a pipeline of early-stage inhaled treatments for lung diseases through the acquisition of respiratory therapeutics company RespiVert. Although financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, the technology transfer and investment organization, Imperial Innovations, says that it will make £9.5 million (about $13.92 million) gross and about £7.2 million (roughly $10.55 million) in profit from the sale of its 13.4% stake in the U.K.-based firm.

RespiVert is a small molecule drug discovery company focused on the identification of inhaled therapies for COPD, cystic fibrosis, and severe asthma. The firm claims that its therapeutic approaches address problems associated with the refractory nature of such diseases to the anti-inflammatory effects of current inhaled corticosteroid treatments.

Lead compounds, RV-568 and RV-1088, are narrow-spectrum kinase inhibitors. They demonstrate a unique profile of anti-inflammatory activity, according to RespiVert. Clinical development of the programs is expected to start this year and will be led by RespiVert in collaboration with Centocor Research and Development.

“The RespiVert compounds offer the potential for a new class of medicines for patients with severe lung disease that are insensitive to inhaled corticosteroids,” comments Susan Dillon Ph.D., global therapeutic area head of immunology for Centocor Research and Development. “The addition of RespiVert’s expert scientific team and discovery platforms for inhaled medicines strengthens our capabilities and further builds our pipeline of novel oral and biologic therapies for serious pulmonary diseases.”