Janssen is paying Evotec and its collaborators at Harvard University $8 million up front for exclusive access to a series of small molecule and biologic candidates designed to trigger the regeneration of pancreatic beta cells. The candidates were originally discovered at the laboratory of Harvard University’s Douglas Melton, Ph.D., and have been further evaluated through the CureBeta collaboration between Dr. Melton and Evotec.

Under terms of the new licensing and collaboration deal Janssen could pay up to another $300 million in preclinical, clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones, plus royalties on future sales. All fees and milestones will be shared by Evotec and Harvard according to preagreed terms. Evotec will receive additional research support for discovery and early development work to be conducted in collaboration with Janssen.

The CureBeta initiative was established by Harvard, Evotec and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in 2011. The initial goal of the collaboration was to effect a comprehensive and systematic approach towards the identification and development of physiological mechanisms and targets that regulate beta cell replication. Evotec says early work has led to the development of new beta cell regeneration assays and tools, and the identification of high-potential targets.

“We have not only achieved our scientific goals of creating a superior beta cell drug discovery platform and generating a deep pipeline of novel and exciting targets, but we have also established a new model of collaboration between academia and industry that has proven highly efficient and effective in accelerating innovative scientific development,” comments Cord Dohrmann, Ph.D., Evotec CSO. “Janssen Pharmaceuticals perfectly complements this effort, bringing in world-leading pharmaceutical development expertise as well as the necessary resources to execute our mission to produce first-in-class therapeutics designed to restore beta cell mass and function.”

Building on the CureBeta model, Evotec initiated another partnership with Harvard University, and this time Brigham and Women’s Hospital, focused on discovering and developing new biomarkers, diagnostics, and treatments for acute and chronic kidney disease. The CureNephron initiative aims to identify mechanisms involved in kidney disease that may have potential for the development of disease-modifying therapeutics, and validate biomarkers that will provide more accurate diagnosis and disease monitoring. 

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