Metamark signs potential $365M deal with J&J unit

Metamark Genetics has entered an agreement with Janssen Biotech, a unit of Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), to identify and characterize proprietary cancer targets that play a causal role in promoting tumor progression and spread (prognosis determinants). Under the terms of the agreement, Metamark will receive an initial upfront payment as well as up to $365 million in milestones across multiple targets.

After the targets are selected, Janssen will receive a limited exclusive license and will be responsible for the discovery, development and commercialization of therapeutic inhibitors targeting the specific prognosis determinants.

Metamark's platform allows doctors to identify which early-stage cancers are metastatic, permitting them to determine personalized treatment plans for patients. The company was founded in 2007 and has a number of seasoned diagnostic veterans on its management team, including CEO Mark Straley, whose background includes stints at J&J, Bayer Healthcare and Abbott Laboratories ($ABT).

"Our ultimate mission at Metamark Genetics is to improve cancer patient outcomes by empowering personalized treatment decisions," Straley said in a statement. "This collaboration advances our mission by enabling us to apply our unique understanding of tumor biology to direct the discovery and development of tumor-specific drugs and compounds."

- see the Metamark statement