Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Biotech has acquired from Novo Nordisk a development program focused on autoimmune diseases. The price was not disclosed.

Novo, which announced the deal yesterday, said in a statement it sold an exclusive global license to Janssen toward further developing and commercializing the program, which targets modulation of certain immune cells via the natural-killer group 2, member D (NKG2D) receptor.

Mette Kruse Danielsen, media relations manager with Novo Nordisk, told GEN today the anti-NKG2D program licensed to Janssen is the anti-NKG2D program indicated for Crohn’s disease and advanced to Phase II under the name NN8555.

The program was one of five anti-inflammatory R&D programs, and the only anti-NKG2D program among the anti-inflammatory drug development programs ended by Novo in September 2014.

Novo withdrew from the therapeutic area, and stepped up its focus on diabetes and obesity, following the failure of Novo’s anti-interleukin-20 (IL-20) drug candidate NN8226, indicated for arthritis, in a Phase II trial. At the time, Novo said the company’s withdrawal from anti-inflammatory drug development would affect 400 jobs, of which half were expected to be eliminated.

Anti-immune diseases is one of five therapeutic areas of focus for Janssen, which just yesterday disclosed plans to launch more than 10 new blockbuster drugs by 2019. Two of those 10+ products are for immunology indications: The anti-Interleukin-23 monoclonal antibody Guselkumab for psoriasis, licensed from MorphoSys; and the human anti-interleukin-6 monoclonal antibody sirukumab for rheumatoid arthritis, co-developed with GlaxoSmithKline.

[This report has been updated from an earlier version to include confirmation from Novo Nordisk.]

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