Latest News

17 May

J&J expands dermatology portfolio with $850m Proteologix acquisition

Credit: Skorzewiak/

In a bid to solidify its footing in dermatology, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has announced that it will purchase the immune-mediated disease-focused biotech Proteologix in a $850m cash buyout, with the potential for additional milestone payments.

The host of bispecific antibodies brought by Proteologix to the deal will add depth to J&J’s immunology pipeline, and more specifically, bolster its position to address atopic dermatitis (AD). 

Among Proteologix’s assets is PX128, a bispecific antibody designed to target interleukin (IL)-13, as well as the cytokine TSLP, which is being developed for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe AD and moderate to severe asthma. 

The acquisition also covers the preclinical stage candidate, PX130, a bispecific antibody designed to target both IL-13 and IL-22 to inhibit inflammation, restore the skin barrier, and prevent environmental trigger-mediated inflammation of the skin. The asset is under development for the treatment of moderate to severe AD.

13 May

Takeda shells out $100m to license AC Immune’s Phase II Alzheimer’s therapy

Japanese pharma company Takeda has signed an exclusive, worldwide option and licence agreement for AC Immune’s amyloid beta-targeting Alzheimer’s disease (AD) immunotherapy, in a deal worth up to $2.2bn.  

As per the agreement, AC Immune will receive $100m in upfront payment and will be in line to receive up to $2.1bn in milestone-based payments. The Swiss pharma company will also be eligible to receive “tiered double-digit royalties” should Takeda choose to license the therapy following the completion of the Phase II trial. 

ACI-24.060 targets the toxic forms of amyloid beta protein, which are involved in the pathogenesis of AD. The therapy is designed to induce an antibody response against those amyloid beta versions thereby disrupting plaque formation and disease progression in AD. 

Following the news, AC Immune’s stock was up by more than 57% in premarket trading today, compared to the market close on Friday. The company’s market cap stands at $228.5m.

14 May

AbbVie makes a play for psychiatric treatments with $2bn Gilgamesh collaboration

AbbVie has joined forces with US-based Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals to target therapies for psychiatric disorders. 

The collaboration, which includes an option-to-license agreement, will see AbbVie pay Gilgamesh $65m upfront. The psychedelic specialist is also in line to receive up to $1.95bn in aggregate option fees and milestones, as well as royalties.  

The two companies will team up in the research and development phases of potential therapeutics for psychiatric disorders. AbbVie will take on development and commercialisation duties if it chooses to option a programme.  

Founded in 2019, Gilgamesh is developing neuroplastogens – agents that induce rapid and long-lasting neuroplasticity. These compounds could minimise the side effects seen with existing psychedelic compounds whilst still exerting clinical benefit, as per the company.

14 May

UK Government expands opioid overdose treatment access

The UK Government is set to revise legislation to allow a wider range of professionals, including paramedics, nurses, police officers, probation workers and homelessness service workers, to supply opioid overdose antidote naxolone without a prescription.

The expansion aims to save lives by enabling quicker responses to opioid overdoses among vulnerable populations. 

Naloxone is known for its rapid action in reversing opioid overdose effects, particularly breathing difficulties. The impending legislative update will permit the distribution of take-home naloxone supplies to individuals who may encounter opiate users at high risk of overdose.

Currently, naloxone can be administered by anyone in an emergency, but legal supply without a prescription is restricted to drug and alcohol treatment services.

The government’s move will facilitate wider access to the life-saving medication, which is effective against overdoses from heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl or nitazenes.

9 May

Marinus parts ways with 20% of its workforce

Marinus Pharmaceuticals has announced that it is sacking approximately 20% of its workforce as a part of the company’s plans to reduce operating costs that will allow for the advancement of the company’s “near-term goals.”

The reorganisation efforts come a month after the company’s pivotal RAISE study (NCT04391569), which is evaluating IV ganaxolone for the treatment of status epilepticus (SE), failed to meet its pre-defined early stopping criteria. The company said it plans to run the trial to completion to determine the next steps of drug development, and will release topline results in the summer.

As per the 8 May Q1 financial results and business update, the cost reduction plan, which has already been implemented, will allow Marinus to retain the necessary staff to evaluate topline results from the RAISE study and advance any future development of the treatment.

The actions are expected to extend Marinus’ cash runway—which as of 31 March equates to $113.3m—late into Q1 2025.