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Oct 05, 2015
 |  BioCentury  |  Tools & Techniques

J&J intercepts Nextera

How Nextera technology could enable J&J to intercept RA before it starts

Johnson & Johnson's option deal with Nextera A/S could add another tool to the pharma's growing arsenal of T cell-based technologies for intercepting immunological diseases before they start.

On Sept. 21, Nextera granted J&J's Janssen Biotech Inc. unit an option to exclusively license the biotech's Phagemer technology for rheumatoid arthritis. Janssen initially will fund a research program. Additional details of the deal, including what triggers the option, were not disclosed.

Phagemer uses phage display of recombinant major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules to screen for T cell targets of interest. MHC class II molecules on antigen-presenting cells present antigen peptide fragments to helper T cells. Binding and recognition of the MHC-bound peptide fragments activate helper T cells, which then amplify cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses.

According to Nextera CEO Thomas Andersen, the antigen that causes the immune response and resulting tissue destruction is unknown in most autoimmune diseases, including RA. By identifying the specific antigens driving autoimmunity and targeting them, Andersen said it may be possible to prevent the activation of autoreactive T cells.

"The Phagemer platform allows us to target the disease at the very initiation of the cascade," Andersen told BioCentury.

MHC class II...

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