Johnson & Johnson says the science and first-mover advantage behind Pharmacyclics Inc.'s Btk inhibitor were interesting enough for the pharma to step outside its focus on the tumor microenvironment - and to justify a $150 million upfront payment. The partners, which will share costs and profits, plan to start Phase III testing of PCI-32765 for B cell malignancies in mid-2012.
J&J has spent several years retooling its oncology R&D organization to focus on projects that disrupt the tumor microenvironment. This initiative has involved in-house changes like adding biomarker and translational medicine groups, and bringing in external assets, such as prostate cancer drug Zytiga abiraterone (see BioCentury, Aug. 30, 2010).
However, the pharma