Johnson & Johnson unveils new obesity, arthritis collaborations, shares its molecule library

Johnson & Johnson has built up more than 300 collaborations with the research community in recent years.

Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation unit has unveiled another clutch of deals and collaborations with industry and academia, as it also shares its molecular library to help fight neglected diseases.

J&J’s Innovation unit has more than 300 collaborative pacts to its name and started the year with 15 more that focused on a biotech NASH deal with Bird Rock Bio, while also bumping up its work on malaria and penning another RNA deal with Synthetic Genomics.

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Six months down the line and timed to coincide at this year’s BIO Convention, it’s at it again, with its R&D unit Janssen inking a multiproject collab with the University of California San Diego School of Medicine focused on fatty liver disease/obesity.

Plans are in place to work on finding pathways and mechanisms driving disease progression, as well as clinically useful biomarkers, targets and gastric bypass approaches, all of which is designed to find new therapies for NASH, chronic kidney disease (CKD) and other obesity-based conditions.

“Projects under this collaboration will include exploration of animal and cell models of NASH and CKD, discovery of mechanisms invoked by bariatric surgery, disease-related biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets,” J&J said in a statement.

Building on its blockbuster work in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and coming as a host of biosimilars line up to erode sales from older meds, Janssen Biotech has also formed a multiyear collaboration and prenegotiated option-to-license agreement with Monash University to discover and develop next-gen biologics to treat, prevent and intercept RA. As is usual with these deals, dollar terms have not been disclosed.

And building on its work in malaria and other neglected diseases, Janssen has penned pacts aimed at speeding up the discovery of new treatments for tuberculosis, malaria, neglected tropical diseases, and “other diseases prevalent in the developing world.”

It will help by sharing selected parts of its molecular libraries with governmental biomedical research agencies such as the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health and academic centers such as Washington University in St. Louis, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Center for Discovery and Innovation in Parasitic Diseases at the University of California San Diego.

Through WIPO Re:Search, the international research consortium led by the nonprofit BIO Ventures for Global Health and the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization, Janssen says it will open up segments of its molecule library, which hold a set of 80,000 chemical compounds, to these organizations to help seek out and push on with promising drug candidates.

“By working collectively, the global health community can increase and accelerate the potential to achieve major research breakthroughs for the millions of people worldwide who suffer from these devastating diseases,” said Wim Parys, M.D., head of R&D Global Public Health at Johnson & Johnson, in a release. “Opening our compound libraries and providing our partners access to the research capabilities of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies underscores our commitment to accelerate the pace of innovation to broaden our reach and deepen our impact.”