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J&J’s Janssen to Acquire BeneVir for $1 Billion

Janssen Biotech, part of Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), announced on May 2, 2018 that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire BeneVir Biopharm (BeneVir), a biotechnology company specializing in the development of oncolytic immunotherapies.

BeneVir is a portfolio company and subsidiary of HC2 Holdings’ Pansend Life Sciences, which is focused on developing healthcare technologies and products. Benevir uses a proprietary T-Stealth Oncolytic Virus Platform to engineer oncolytic viruses tailored to infect and eliminate cancer cells.

Under the terms of the agreement, Janssen will make an upfront cash payment of $140 million at closing of the transaction, plus additional contingent payments of up to $900 million based on achievement of certain predetermined milestones. The total amount of all payments could exceed $1 billion if all milestones are met. The closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. The transaction, which was facilitated by J&J Innovation, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.

“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,” said Matt Mulvey, PhD, founder and CEO at BeneVir, in a press statement.

Janssen states that it intends to advance pre-clinical candidates as standalone therapies and in combination with other immunotherapies for the treatment of solid tumor cancers, including lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer.

“Oncolytic viral immunotherapy holds exciting potential in the treatment of solid tumors through the priming and augmenting of an anti-tumor immune response,” said Peter Lebowitz, MD, PhD, global therapeutic area head, Oncology, Janssen Research & Development, in a company press release. “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.”

BeneVir will maintain a research presence in Rockville, MD, and become part of the Janssen Oncology Therapeutic Area.  The team will remain focused on the optimization of oncolytic viruses in solid tumors using BeneVir’s platform as well as the execution of pre-clinical activities.