Galapagos registers another setback as J&J dumps anti-inflammatory pact

Eight years after J&J ($JNJ) handed over €15 million in an upfront payment to Galapagos to launch a partnership to develop anti-inflammatory drugs, the pharma giant is bowing out--the latest in a series of development setbacks at the European biotech.

As is often the case, the Belgian biotech heralded the end of the long partnership as a win for the company, citing three clinical-stage molecules that are now fully owned by Galapagos. Among the assets is GLPG1690, a selective autotaxin inhibitor. Galapagos says it has successfully completed a Phase I trial for GLPG1690 and is preparing a Phase II clinical trial in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

"We are pleased to regain the rights to GLPG1690 to pursue the most suitable clinical application of autotaxin inhibition. There is a large unmet medical need in IPF, and our pre-clinical data with GLPG1690 supports its potential as a competitive and novel approach in this disease area," said Piet Wigerinck, the chief scientific officer of Galapagos, in a statement.

Back in 2007, when the two companies first joined forces, J&J was heavily focused on new drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, committing up to €73 million in option fees and milestones for each of up to 12 programs it agreed to option.

J&J began to publicly back away from Galapagos a few months ago, bowing out of a GPR84 program for inflammatory bowel disease, an effort that includes GLPG1205 and its backup compound GLPG2196.

Galapagos has also run into trouble with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK). Last summer the pharma giant called off plans for a late-stage study of their partnered JAK1 inhibitor GSK2586184, which was intended for use against lupus, ulcerative colitis and psoriasis. That drug failed to measure up to GSK's expectations.

- here's the release

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