Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has signed a definitive agreement for the acquisition of Ambrx Biopharma in a $2bn all-cash deal.

Ambrx, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, is recognised for its synthetic biology platform, which is instrumental in designing and developing antibody drug conjugates (ADCs).

The company’s portfolio includes clinical and preclinical programmes that optimise the safety and efficacy of its candidate therapeutics in oncology indications.

Among the key candidates in Ambrx’s pipeline is ARX517, an ADC targeting prostate-specific membrane antigen for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Another is ARX788, a human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-directed ADC for metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer.

ARX305 is also being developed to target CD-70 [cluster of differentiation 70] for renal cell carcinoma.

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Researchers at J&J plan to collaborate with their Ambrx counterparts to expedite the Phase I/II APEX-01 clinical trial of ARX517 to treat advanced prostate cancer.

The companies will also progress the development of a new ADC product candidate pipeline.

The deal will be concluded in the first half of 2024.

Johnson & Johnson innovative medicine oncology global therapeutic area head Yusri Elsayed stated: “Ambrx’s ADC technology offers unique advantages in the conjugation of stable antibodies and cytotoxic linker payloads, which results in engineered ADCs that effectively kill cancer cells and limit toxicities.

“The results seen to date with ARX517 in mCRPC are promising and represent a potential first- and best-in-class targeted therapy for the treatment of this aggressive disease.

“In addition, Ambrx’s pipeline and ADC platform present exciting future opportunities to deliver enhanced, precision biologics as we look to transform the treatment of cancer and improve patients’ lives.”

The latest development comes after the company signed a  $1.7bn licensing deal with South Korean company LegoChem Biosciences to develop and market LCB84.