A little over a month ago, J&J salved the wound left by its decision to abandon a multibillion-dollar late-stage hep C program by saying it was shifting its R&D attention to finding a functional cure for hepatitis B. And this morning it took a step in that direction with a tie-up with San Diego-based Arcturus Therapeutics, an RNA company that reversed its way into the public markets a few weeks ago with a deal to merge with the failed biotech Alcobra $ADHD.
With the helping hand of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in California, J&J’s Janssen group will be developing nucleic acid-based drugs with the help of Arcturus’ chemistry and delivery platform technology.
Arcturus gets an unspecified upfront, R&D support and a slate of clinical and commercial milestones, which will likely be heavily back ended.
The news had a tonic effect on the microchip biotech’s new stock price, sending the price up more than 40%, even without any numbers. The company started the day with a market cap of only $35 million. The marquee J&J name now goes alongside Arcturus’ other partners, including Takeda (involving a new program for NASH) and Ultragenyx $ONCE.
J&J didn’t just abandon hep C recently, essentially conceding defeat to the two leaders in that field: Gilead and AbbVie. It also just disposed of two of its top late-stage drugs in the pipeline, marking a series of setbacks for J&J after it successfully completed the Actelion buyout.
“This new collaboration signifies an expanded relationship between Arcturus and Janssen,” said Arcturus CEO Joseph Payne.
The best place to read Endpoints News? In your inbox.
Comprehensive daily news report for those who discover, develop, and market drugs. Join 44,000+ biopharma pros who read Endpoints News by email every day.Free Subscription