Centocor Ortho Biotech acquires lung disease portfolio in takeover
23 June 2010
Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson &
Johnson, has acquired RespiVert Ltd., a privately held drug discovery
company focused on developing small-molecule, inhaled therapies for the
treatment of pulmonary diseases.
The company’s lead compounds, RV-568 and RV-1088, narrow spectrum
kinase inhibitors with a unique profile of anti-inflammatory
activities, are progressing into clinical development as potential
first-in-class treatments for moderate to severe asthma, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis (CF).
With the acquisition of RespiVert, Centocor Ortho Biotech gains a
portfolio of first-in-class, early-stage inhaled treatments for
serious lung diseases. RespiVert will continue to maintain its
research and discovery presence in London from the Imperial
BioIncubator, which is based at the campus of Imperial College
London. RespiVert employees will continue to lead ongoing research
and drug discovery efforts.
The clinical development of RV-568 and RV-1088 will be led by
RespiVert in collaboration with scientists at Centocor Research and
Development, Inc. The company is not disclosing financial terms.
“The RespiVert compounds offer the potential for a new class of
medicines for patients with severe lung disease that are insensitive
to inhaled corticosteroids,” said Susan Dillon, Ph.D., Global
Therapeutic Area Head, Immunology, Centocor Research and
“The addition of RespiVert’s expert scientific team and
discovery platforms for inhaled medicines strengthens our
capabilities and further builds our pipeline of novel oral and
biologic therapies for serious pulmonary diseases.”
Dr. Garth Rapeport, Chief Executive Officer of RespiVert, who is
remaining with RespiVert following the acquisition, said, “We
believe that our focused discovery efforts in pulmonary disease
offer a unique opportunity to bring completely new treatment options
to patients who suffer from severe, chronic respiratory diseases
including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, severe asthma and
About asthma, COPD, and CF
Severe or uncontrolled asthma is associated with significant
morbidity, resulting in missed work and school days, and substantial
limitation of activity, adversely impacting quality of life in
asthmatics. Severe asthma represents a particular societal burden,
with sources suggesting that half of the total cost of asthma in the
United States is attributable to severe disease. Asthma is the cause
of over 4,000 deaths each year in the US and over 12,000 in Europe.
COPD is an umbrella term for a group of lung diseases which
include chronic bronchitis, emphysema and small airways disease.
COPD is a serious, chronic disorder characterized by a slowly
progressive decline in lung function with symptoms such as chronic
cough and dyspnoea significantly impacting quality of life. COPD is
estimated to cause 130,000 deaths per year in the US.
CF is an inherited life-threatening disease involving a genetic
mutation that disrupts the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator
(CFTR) protein, resulting in poorly hydrated, thickened mucous
secretions in the lungs and digestive tract. Due to these changes,
the lungs of individuals with cystic fibrosis are colonized and
infected by bacteria from an early age. This leads to progressive
and severe lung inflammation which is difficult to treat.