Cilag International, an affiliate of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, acquired Covagen, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of multispecific protein therapeutics through its FynomAb® technology platform. Financial details were not disclosed.

Covagen’s lead product, COVA 322, a bispecific anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha/anti-interleukin (IL)-17A FynomAb, is in a Phase Ib study for psoriasis. According to the company, it also holds potential as a treatment for a broad range of inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis.  FynomAbs, multispecific protein therapeutics, are developed by fusing Fynomer binding proteins to antibodies.  Fynomers, derived from the human Fyn SH3 domain, are engineered to bind to target molecules with the same affinity and specificity as antibodies. 

“Our interest in Covagen stems from the company's scientific acumen, their novel FynomAb platform, and the potential of COVA 322, a bispecific designed to achieve better control of inflammation by blocking two key cytokines that have been implicated in disease pathogenesis and progression,” said Susan B. Dillon, Ph.D., global therapeutic area head of immunology, Janssen Research & Development. “We look forward to progressing COVA 322 development, and to further expanding the potential of multispecific biologics for immunologic and other diseases.”

FynomAb was generated less than one year after initiating a joint research collaboration with Tanabe Research Laboratories (TRL), a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC) in October 2012. The collaboration focused on using FynomAb to generate bispecific proteins against two pairs of targets selected by MTPC and TRL and was expanded in November of last year.

Covagen, founded in 2007, will maintain a research presence in Zurich-Schlieren, Switzerland, and will continue to focus on the further development and application of the Fynomer technology.  

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