Intrexon said today it will partner with Janssen Pharmaceutica to discover and develop new oral drugs based on Intrexon’s ActoBiotics® platform for type 2 diabetes, obesity, and/or metabolic disorders related to energy dysregulation.

The value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

The platform entails the engineering of food-grade microbes (Lactococcus lactis) to generate biologically contained ActoBiotics drugs designed to function through the expression and secretion of novel proteins and peptides including cytokines, enzymes, hormones, and monoclonal antibodies within the body.

According to Intrexon, ActoBiotics can deliver biological effectors selectively to the oral and gastrointestinal tract, allowing for easier-to-use treatments not achievable through traditional injectable medicines.

Intrexon reasons that ActoBiotics can serve as an oral delivery system for biological effectors capable of tackling multiple aspects of type 2 diabetes with the potential to improve efficacy in maintaining long-term glycemic control.

In addition to treating established type 2 diabetes, the research collaboration will also seek to address diabetes prevention by using ActoBiotics-based treatments to prevent pre-diabetics from progressing into full-stage disease through the expression of certain effectors.

Intrexon has a preclinical ActoBiotics compound for type 2 diabetes that it says has generated positive efficacy data in animal models, as well as preclinical ActoBiotics compounds for allergic diseases and autoimmune disorders, such as celiac disease and type 1 diabetes.

Two ActoBiotics candidates are in clinical development: AG013, designed to deliver a therapeutic peptide for the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis; and AG014 which secretes anti-TNF-alpha Fab to treat inflammatory bowel disease with localized delivery minimizing systemic exposure.

“The breadth of opportunity to treat an array of diseases with our versatile ActoBiotics technology continues to expand,” Samuel Broder, M.D., SVP and head of Intrexon's health sector, said in a statement.

Diabetes is among areas of focus within Janssen’s cardiology and metabolism therapeutic area.

The collaboration with Intrexon marks Janssen’s second diabetes-focused collaboration in as many months. In November, Janssen partnered with Hanmi Pharmaceutical in an up to $915 million alliance to co-develop the Korean pharma’s Phase II-ready diabetes and obesity candidate HM12525A (LAPSGLP/GCG) and other oxyntomodulin-based therapies.

The collaboration was facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, which offers funding, R&D expertise, business model development, and facilities and operational support to areas of strategic importance in J&J’s pharmaceutical, diagnostic, consumer and medical device businesses.

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