Fishing upstream

How Janssen's immunology group is readying clinical test of disease interception

Anti-inflammatory biologics have transformed the treatment of autoimmune diseases, but Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Research & Development LLC unit wants to intercept the processes that lead to inflammation in the first place.

As early as next year, the pharma's immunology group plans to enter the clinic with a program that could halt inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) before inflammation can damage tissues.

The pharma is not disclosing what candidate will be the lead, but it has described a broad program in disease interception that ranges from monitoring and modulating the microbiome on one hand, to researching immune tolerance and antigen selectivity on the other. The goal of the latter approach is to reset the immune system to prevent autoimmunity.

"We are aiming to reinvent the future for patients that have these diseases, and we are at a phase now where we are moving ideas from the lab to the clinic," Global Therapeutic Area Head for Immunology Sue Dillon told BioCentury.

While the therapeutic areas (TAs) in Janssen have been working on a handful of interception programs for many years, the pharma expanded and codified its approach in 2015 with the formation of the Disease Interception Accelerator (DIA).

The strategy involves identifying the earliest molecular events that lead to disease, as well as markers of risk and progression that can be used to identify and monitor individuals who are likely to become sick. Identifying susceptible individuals is crucial to balancing benefit and risk because, by definition, interception products will be used by people when they are healthy.

The immunology interception programs are driven by the pharma's

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