Johnson & Johnson Innovation said today it has launched 17 collaborations with research institutions and healthcare companies, bringing to more than 200 the total number of collaborations formed since its 2013 launch.

The 17 include a research alliance for the Disease Interception Accelerator (DIA), created in February to identify disease root causes and enable the development of treatments.  DIA and J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals will partner with Washington University immunologist Emil Unanue, M.D., on the accelerator's their first research alliance/collaboration, focused on intercepting type 1 diabetes before it begins. The partners will explore the role of antigen presenting cells in the initiation and progression of type 1 diabetes, J&J Innovation said.

In February, the research/advocacy group JDRF agreed to support DIA's approach of further identifying root causes of type 1 diabetes.

J&J Innovation said Janssen Biotech will initiate treatment-focused collaborations with:

  • Carna Biosciences and Janssen Biotech to further develop and commercialize small molecules from one of Carna’s kinase inhibitor programs.
  • Novo Nordisk to further develop the monoclonal antibody NNC-0142-0002 (formerly NN8555), an agonist of the natural-killer group 2, member D (NKG2D) receptor, as a potential first-in-class treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases, subject to Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust clearance. Janssen agreed to license the program from Novo Nordisk in May.

Another J&J entity, Jansssen Cilag Pty Ltd., will join with The University of Queensland, Australia, its main commercialization company UniQuest, and Janssen Research & Development to identify, develop, and commercialize small molecule modulators of a biological target implicated in ankylosing spondylitis

“We are committed to working with researchers around the world to push the boundaries of what science and medicine can achieve to transform healthcare,” Paul Stoffels, M.D., J&J CSO and worldwide chairman, pharmaceuticals, said in a statement.

Janssen also said it was starting two tool-focused collaborations. The company will team up with Emulate to deploy the Organs-on-Chips platform across specific Janssen R&D clinical research programs that include Lung-on-Chip to evaluate pulmonary thrombosis, Liver-on-Chip to predict liver toxicity. The technology is designed to reduce drug candidate attrition in human clinical trials and advance safer candidates.

Janssen and HiFiBiO will evaluate HiFiBiO’s single cell technology for genetically characterizing individual cells as a potential new antibody discovery platform. Validation activities include comparing a large repertoire of B-cell antibodies from a number of different tissues generated against a target antigen chosen by Janssen R&D, J&J Innovation said.

Three other Janssen entities are teaming up with partners that include:

  • Arcturus Therapeutics, which is joining Janssen Pharmaceuticals to discover, develop and commercialize RNA-based drug products for undisclosed diseases using Arcturus’ UNA Oligomer™ chemistry and LUNAR™ nanoparticle delivery platform. Arcturus’ website describes the company as an RNA therapeutics company specializing in treatments for rare disease.
  • BRIM Technology, which with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV will work to research, develop, and commercialize new therapies for dengue fever.
  • The University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, which will collaborate with Janssen Sciences Ireland UC to explore the delivery of transcription activator–like effector nucleases (TALENs) targeting hepatitis B using viral and non-viral vectors.

The other two collaborations focus on identifying environmental factors for asthma (with the University of Arizona’s BIO5 Institute and Johnson & Johnson Consumer & Personal Products unit), and on improving orthopedic surgeries (with DePuy Synthes Products), in part through biomarker diagnostics.

J&J Innovation said five of the collaborations will focus globally with:

  • China-based global contract R&D service provider WuXi AppTec on new biopharma and consumer healthcare products developed in China but sourced and marketed globally.
  • The Lead Discovery Center in Dortmund, Germany, on identifying and advancing molecules with therapeutic potential developed by German research institutions and universities that also align with strategic areas of interest of Janssen R&D.
  • Toronto’s MaRS Innovation on identifying and advancing early-stage technologies of interest to J&J companies.

Another two of the collaborations were announced May 22 by Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet. J&J Innovation has established a hub at Karolinska to provide investment and access to resources and expertise for emerging life sciences companies in the Nordic region.

Also, Janssen Pharmaceutica has launched a Real World Evidence research program in which its researchers and those of Karolinska will study how patients respond to medicines and other interventions based on parameters that include clinical, quality-of-life, social, and economic criteria.

“Initial areas of focus are depression, prostate cancer, psoriasis, B-cell malignancies, and method development, with the ultimate goal of improving our understanding of medical interventions and treatment outcomes under real-world conditions,” J&J Innovation stated.

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