Johnson & Johnson Pursues Global Rights to Numab Therapeutics’ AD-Targeting Bispecific Antibody in $1.25 Billion Acquisition

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Under an agreement, Johnson & Johnson will acquire Numab Therapeutics’ wholly owned subsidiary to gain global rights to NM26, a bispecific antibody targeting atopic dermatitis.

On May 28, 2024, Johnson & Johnson announced that it intends to acquire a wholly owned subsidiary of Numab Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company specializing in immunology and oncology therapeutics, which will give Johnson & Johnson the global rights to NM26, a novel, investigational bispecific antibody currently in development for atopic dermatitis (AD). Johnson & Johnson will make the acquisition in an approximately $1.25 billion all-cash transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2024, pending regulatory clearance and other customary closing conditions.

NM26 will soon enter Phase II studies. The bispecific antibody targets two clinically proven pathways in AD, interleukin 4 receptor (IL4R)-alpha subunit (IL-4Rα) and IL-31. AD is the most common inflammatory skin disease (1); it is known to be highly heterogeneous and is driven by different disease mechanisms in distinct patient subpopulations. IL-4Rα triggers T helper type 2 (Th2)-mediated skin inflammation (1) and IL-31 impacts skin itch and subsequent scratching (2), both of which worsen the disease. By targeting these two pathways, NM26 has the potential to transform the standard of care for AD and could also be effective in treating other inflammatory skin diseases in which Th2 inflammation and itch are prevalent, according to a company press release.

“To deliver durable, symptom-free remission for the millions of people living with AD, our medicines need to be tailored to target multiple disease-driving pathways in different patient subpopulations,” said David Lee, Global Immunology Therapeutic Area head, Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine, in the press release. “That’s why we are committed to developing differentiated bispecifics that combine the targeting of two distinct disease-driving pathways. NM26 has the potential to deliver a treatment specifically for patients who have inflamed skin associated with intense itching.”

AD symptoms include inflamed skin that can be associated with itch and subsequent scratching, which often results in skin pain, skin abrasions that increase risk of infection, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, stress, depression, and in some cases an increased risk of suicide. “Current therapies fall short of delivering durable, symptom-free remission, with approximately 70% of patients not achieving remission in what is the most common inflammatory skin disease (1),” Johnson & Johnson cited in the press release.


“Our goal is to deliver transformational efficacy for all patients living with immune mediated diseases [such as] AD,” said Candice Long, worldwide vice-president, Immunology, Johnson & Johnson, in the release. “Our investment in differentiated bispecifics is the next chapter in our impactful Immunology legacy. It reinforces our commitment to address unmet medical needs by leveraging patient insights and our deep disease expertise.”


1. Simpson, E. L.; Bieber, T.; Guttman-Yassky, E.; et al. Two Phase 3 Trials of Dupilumab versus Placebo in Atopic Dermatitis. N Engl J Med. 2016, 375 (24), 2335–2348. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1610020
2. Kabashima, K.; Matsumura, T.; Komazaki, H.; Kawashima, M. Nemolizumab Plus Topical Agents in Patients with Atopic Dermatitis (AD) and Moderate‐to‐Severe Pruritus Provide Improvement in Pruritus and Signs of AD for Up to 68 Weeks: Results from Two Phase III, Long‐Term Studies. British Journal of Dermatology 2022, 186 (4), 642–651. DOI: 10.1111/bjd.20873

Source: Johnson & Johnson