Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has agreed to acquire biotechnology company Proteologix for $850m in an all-cash deal aimed at advancing its dermatology portfolio.

Based in the US, Proteologix is a privately held firm developing bispecific antibodies for immune-mediated diseases.

The company’s portfolio includes PX128, a bispecific antibody that targets the Interleukin-13 (IL-13) and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) cytokines. It will enter into Phase 1 development in addressing moderate to severe atopic dermatitis (AD) and asthma.

Another asset of Proteologix is PX130, which is focused on IL-13 and IL-22. It is currently in preclinical development stage for moderate to severe AD.

PX128 blocks IL-13-driven Th2 skin inflammation, which is pivotal in AD and asthma, along with TSLP, a significant factor in tissue inflammation for both conditions.

Similarly, PX130 targets IL-13-mediated Th2 skin inflammation. It also hampers IL-22 to restore the skin barrier, protecting against environmental triggers like allergens.

Addition of the assets is expected to help Johnson & Johnson develop a diversified portfolio of targeted therapeutics for dermatological and respiratory disorders.

Johnson & Johnson innovative medicine global immunology therapeutic area head David Lee said: “Current advanced therapies for AD either target a single pathway and have limited efficacy or are more broadly immunosuppressive, resulting in significant safety concerns.

“We see an opportunity for best-in-disease efficacy for both PX128 and PX130 as each bispecific antibody targets two different combinations of disease driving pathways that are mediating the skin inflammation in heterogenous subpopulations of AD patients.”

The transaction also has the potential for an additional milestone payment, Johnson & Johnson said.

Furthermore, the acquisition will offer Johnson & Johnson with additional bispecific antibody programmes for other diseases.

Proteologix founder, chairman and CEO David (Wenyan) Shen said: “Proteologix is dedicated to advancing the field of immunology and inflammation (I&I) diseases.

“Our innovative approach involves developing highly specialised multi-specific, and multi-functional antibody drugs designed to break the efficacy ceiling while extending molecular half-life for optimised dosing schedules.

“This agreement with Johnson & Johnson will allow us to rapidly develop and realise the full potential of our lead programmes in atopic dermatitis, asthma, and other significant I&I diseases.”

The acquisition is anticipated to conclude by mid-2024, subject to antitrust clearance and other usual closing conditions.