Janssen enters $440m retinal gene therapy partnership

J&J has licensed a clinical stage inherited retinal disease portfolio from MeiraGTx in a deal that could be worth $440 million (€385 million).

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen division has paid $100 million upfront to MeiraGTx, a London-UK based clinical stage company, to access and codevelop the firm’s gene therapy programs. Development and sales milestones for MeiraGTx’s could net the firm a further $340 million.

Under terms of the deal, the two firms aim to develop, manufacture and commercialize several candidates for inherited retinal diseases (IRDs), as well as exploring new targets and further developing a joint adeno-associated virus (AAV) manufacturing technology. Lead products target achromatopsia (ACHM) caused by mutations in either CNGB3 or CNGA3, and X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP).

Janssen accesses a gene therapy portfolio focused on inherited retinal diseases. Image: iStock/Mark_Kuiken

“By combining Janssen’s extensive clinical, regulatory and commercial expertise and global reach with MeiraGTx’s deep experience in gene therapy development and manufacturing, we aim to accelerate the development of our pipeline of potential IRD gene therapies to address the needs of patients globally,” said Alexandria Forbes, MeiraGTx’s CEO.

Manufacturing

Currently MeiraGTx produces its AAV gene therapies from its 29,000-square foot facility located in London. The site consists of cell expansion, bulk production virus suites, fill and finish and quality control laboratories, along with an R&D laboratory.

According to the firm, the production suites are all independent, and the facility was designed to accommodate planar and bioreactor production platforms with the ability to implement robotics at the fill and finish stage of the product manufacture.

“The facility provides an important strategic tool by which MeiraGTx plans to support and control the manufacture of clinical and commercial supply of innovative gene therapy product candidates from pre-clinical stages through clinical trials and potential commercialization,” the firm says.

Janssen first jumped into the advanced therapies space in December 2017 through a $350 million collaboration with Chinese firm Legend Biotech, adding the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell candidate LCAR-B38M to its portfolio.

The firm told this publication in June 2018 it is renovating existing facilities in the US for clinical supply and commercial processing and production of this product, though no further details were divulged.

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