Johnson & Johnson’s Asia Pacific Innovation Center launched in October with a network spanning Australia, Singapore, Japan, and China. J&J Innovation have already announced two collaborations through the Center with Australian universities to identify new treatments for pain and inflammation.

The first is a new project facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation between Janssen Australia and James Cook University. Scientists at the university are investigating proteins secreted by hookworms for their application in treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

This work builds on clinical trials that demonstrated successful regulation of inflammation in coeliac patients following their inoculation with hookworms. Researchers have identified what they believe to be the most promising candidate from the worms’ secreted proteins and will conduct pre-clinical trials on its efficacy and mechanism of action.

This research could lead to investigation of the protein in other pro-inflammatory conditions such as asthma, based on a similar imbalanced T cell response.

The second collaboration involves the University of Queensland, who have extended their collaboration with Janssen Australia and Johnson & Johnson Innovation. This project is currently evaluating peptides in spider venom that may have therapeutic application in blocking pain through a targeted method of action.

These collaborations assist in bridging the gap between early discovery and clinical trials, which can be difficult in a university setting. They also help companies such as J&J to explore research that may be outside their internal scope, which ironically involves anti-parasitics for treatment of worm infections.

By Emma Armitage, Business Analyst, BioPacific Partners

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