British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has entered into an exclusive, worldwide licence agreement with Janssen Sciences Ireland for CNTO 7160 to treat patients with severe asthma.

CNTO 7160 is an anti-IL-33R monoclonal antibody that stops interleukin-33 from binding to the ST2 receptor (IL-33R) and could be used to treat a wide range of severe asthmatic populations.

A strong human genetic evidence and target biology connects the IL-33 pathway to asthma and regulation of inflammatory cells significant within asthma, including neutrophils and eosinophils.

The licence agreement for CNTO 7160 is currently undergoing its Phase I clinical development and covers each and every therapeutic field.

"The IL-33 receptor antibody joins our diverse respiratory R&D portfolio of targeted biological therapies and offers the potential to block a fundamental driver of the disease."

GSK respiratory research and development (R&D) head Dave Allen said: “While current options for the treatment of mild to moderate asthma enable patients to achieve good control of their symptoms, there remains a significant unmet need in severe patients.

“The IL-33 receptor antibody joins our diverse respiratory R&D portfolio of targeted biological therapies and offers the potential to block a fundamental driver of the disease.

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“Following our recent successful launch of a first-in-class biologic for severe asthma in an eosinophilic population, we plan to investigate this asset’s potential to treat other targeted populations, for which there are currently no effective medicines.”

Under the deal, GSK will be responsible for carrying out all development, production and commercialisation activities for CNTO 7160 worldwide.

Janssen will continue to carry out the ongoing Phase I study for the drug and will receive an upfront payment of up to £175m.