5:06 PM
Jan 05, 2018
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

CAR dealing

How J&J’s deal for Legend’s anti-BCMA CAR will shape its cell therapy strategy

Johnson & Johnson’s deal with Legend Biotech will net the pharma both an anti-BCMA CAR T therapy and a partner to help shape its cell therapy strategy.

J&J chose the Chinese company’s LCAR-B38M as its first chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell product, and as a first step in what is likely to be a measured approach using partnerships to build knowledge and capabilities for optimizing cell therapies for cancer.

On Dec. 21, Janssen announced a licensing collaboration with the Legend Biotech USA Inc. and Legend Biotech Ireland Ltd. subsidiaries of Nanjing-based Genscript Biotech Corp. for LCAR-B38M, a CAR T therapy that targets BCMA (TNF receptor superfamily member 17; TNFRSF17). Legend received $350 million up front and is eligible for undisclosed milestones. Janssen and Legend will share costs and profits in a 30/70 split in China and equally elsewhere.

“There are a lot of these decisions to be made, and BCMA is a very good target to start doing things with.”

Peter Lebowitz, Janssen

Global Therapeutic Area Head of Oncology Peter Lebowitz said J&J’s Janssen Research & Development LLC unit has been following the CAR T cell space for the past six to seven years, and said products targeting BCMA were the first to meet the company’s safety and efficacy standards for getting into the field.

LCAR-B38M made a splash at last year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting by reporting a 100% response rate among 19 multiple myeloma (MM) patients in the first phase of the Phase I/II LEGEND-2 study. Fourteen patients had stringent complete...

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