Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has concluded the acquisition of clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Ambrx Biopharma in a $2bn transaction.

The companies entered a definitive agreement to execute the acquisition in January 2024.

The acquisition will be deemed a business combination and marks a significant step for J&J in enhancing its oncology portfolio, particularly in the area of prostate cancer.

The strategic move will also strengthen the company’s capabilities in developing next-generation antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).

Ambrx’s synthetic biology technology platform is intended for designing and developing advanced ADCs.

The technology combines the precision of monoclonal antibodies with chemotherapeutic agents, aiming to target and remove cancer cells more effectively and with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.

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The integration of Ambrx’s ADC technology into J&J’s portfolio presents a unique opportunity to advance the development and commercialisation of targeted oncology therapies.

J&J will gain access to the Ambrx pipeline comprising candidate therapeutics for a range of cancer indications.

The assets comprise ARX517, an ADC for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC); ARX788, for treating human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) for metastatic HER2+ breast cancer, and ARX305 to treat renal cell carcinoma.

J&J innovative medicine oncology global therapeutic area head Yusri Elsayed stated: “We’re pleased to welcome Ambrx’s talented scientific team and ADC platform to Johnson & Johnson.

“We look forward to continuing the development of ARX517, which represents a potential first and best-in-class PSMA [prostate-specific membrane antigen]-targeting ADC for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

“This significant opportunity sets the stage for advancing next-generation ADCs to deliver differentiated solid tumour therapies that improve patients’ lives.”

The latest development comes after the US Food and Drug Administration granted full approval for J&J’s RYBREVANT (amivantamab-vmjw) plus chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer.

This decision, which comes after a priority review, upgrades the May 2021 accelerated approval to full approval.