Janssen Out-Licenses Irritable-Bowel-Disease Drug

Janssen Pharmaceutica, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson, has entered into an exclusive agreement with Akebia Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts focused on therapies for kidney disease using hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) biology, to license Janssen’s HIF-targeting product candidates to Akebia, including its lead candidate for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The agreement also provides Akebia access to Janssen’s proprietary library of HIF pathway compounds, which have potential applications across multiple therapeutic areas. Under the agreement, Akebia will pay Janssen $1 million in cash to access Janssen’s collection of HIF-targeted compounds and associated intellectual property. Akebia also obtains worldwide rights to Janssen’s lead candidate, AKB-5169, a non-absorbed oral HIF stabilizer in preclinical development for treating IBD. Akebia plans to conduct additional preclinical studies of AKB-5169 and submit an investigational new drug application to the US Food and Drug Administration in the next 12 to 18 months.

In connection with the agreement, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the unit within J&J that focuses on accelerating innovation and forming collaborations between entrepreneurs and J&J’s global healthcare businesses, and which facilitated this deal, has an opportunity to take an ownership interest in Akebia through a common stock purchase warrant issued by Akebia for 509,611 shares of Akebia’s common stock. The warrant is exercisable by J&J Innovation in whole or in part, at any time prior to the fifth anniversary of the date of issuance, with a payment to Akebia of up to $5.0 million.

Source: Akebia Therapeutics

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