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Drug Discovery & Development

Janssen Biotech to buy BeneVir Biopharm in $1bn deal

PBR Staff Writer Published 03 May 2018

Janssen Biotech has agreed to acquire US-based BeneVir Biopharm, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing oncolytic immunotherapies for cancer, in a deal worth $1.04bn.

Janssen Biotech is one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies owned by Johnson & Johnson. BeneVir is a portfolio company within HC2’s Pansend Life Sciences subsidiary.

BeneVir is currently working on a platform of oncolytic immunotherapies based on T-Stealth Technology, which engineer oncolytic viruses and customize them to infect and kill cancer cells.

BeneVir founder and CEO Matt Mulvey said: “Our goal at BeneVir has been to develop T-Stealth, an oncolytic immunotherapy platform, to help patients whose tumors do not respond to current therapeutic options including immune checkpoint inhibitors.

“We are excited to join the Janssen team and continue to innovate in the field of oncolytic viral immunotherapy.”

As per the transaction terms, BeneVir will get an upfront payment of $140m in cash at closing of the deal. It will also receive additional contingent payments in the tune of up to $900m subject to realizing certain predefined milestones.

HC2, which currently owns 76% stake in BeneVir, said that the payments to the biopharmaceutical company from Janssen could surpass the $1bn mark if all milestones are achieved.

Janssen said that it plans to advance pre-clinical candidates as monotherapies and in combination with other immunotherapies for treating solid tumor cancers including lung, prostate, colorectal and others.

Janssen Research & Development oncology global therapeutic area head Peter Lebowitz said: “Oncolytic viral immunotherapy holds exciting potential in the treatment of solid tumors through the priming and augmenting of an anti-tumor immune response.

“BeneVir’s unique technology platform complements our immuno-oncology research, which is focused on bringing forward an array of novel immunotherapies and combinations that may improve treatment outcomes for patients.”

Post acquisition, BeneVir will have a research footprint in Rockville, Maryland and will come under Janssen Oncology Therapeutic Area. B

eneVir’s team will continue to focus on the optimization of next generation T-Stealth oncolytic viruses in solid tumors and in carrying out pre-clinical activities, said the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.

The acquisition is anticipated to be completed in the second quarter, subject to meeting of customary closing conditions such as clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act among others.

Image: Johnson & Johnson Headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Photo: courtesy of user:ekem/English Wikipedia.