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Ortho Biotech Oncology Research & Development Unites Johnson & Johnson Biopharmaceutical Oncology R&D Assets


Newly Established Organization Presents Data on Advancing Compounds at AACR

San Diego, CA .– Ortho Biotech Oncology Research & Development (ORD), a unit of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, L.L.C., will announce results from studies of three innovative compounds—Hdm2, c-Met, and HDAC inhibitors—here at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2008 Annual Meeting.

“ORD is a new research and development organization that unites the biotechnology and pharmaceutical oncology efforts of several Johnson & Johnson companies with the goal of transforming cancer into a chronic or curable disease,” said William Hait, M.D., Senior Vice President and Worldwide Head of Ortho Biotech Oncology Research & Development. “The new organization harnesses broad, multi-disciplinary capabilities and expertise in order to prioritize existing and emerging opportunities, align cancer treatment with modern cancer biology and improve patients’ lives.”

ORD’s scientific approach to cancer examines the cancer cell and the surrounding tissue, or microenvironment. Previously, researchers often studied cancer as collections of malignant cells growing in isolation, but now understand cancer cells depend on interactions with the surrounding tissue to survive, grow and metastasize. ORD seeks to identify compounds which can inhibit or block the interaction cancer cells have with the surrounding tissues, which compromises the cancer’s ability to survive.

The organization will combine the microenvironment disruptive agents (MDAs) resulting from this approach with classic treatments that directly target cancer cells. MDAs represent one of the most promising areas of drug discovery, and ORD has a pipeline of several investigational MDAs, including some of which are first-in-class and first-in-clinic.

Pre-clinical data presented at this year’s AACR meeting demonstrate evidence of broad-spectrum, anti-tumor activity for three new compounds. These compounds selectively target specific pathways and influence the interaction between cancer cells and the microenvironment to induce cancer cell death. The presentations include:

* JNJ-26854165, a first-in-class, first-in-clinic Hdm2 inhibitor which induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in a number of cancer cell lines, and restores function of the p53 tumor suppressor protein through a novel mechanism of action; the compound is in phase I studies for non-small cell lung cancer and prostate cancer. (Oral abstract #1592)
* JNJ-26481585, a novel, second-generation pan-Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor with anti-tumor activity against solid and hematological malignancies, which interferes with expression of genes that control cancer cell proliferation, angiogenesis and metastasis; phase I trials are ongoing. (Oral abstract #2444)
* JNJ-38877605, a small molecule that selectively and potently inhibits the c-Met receptor tyrosine kinase (c-Met RTK) pathway that regulates inhibition of signaling from the microenvironment to block cancer cell development and metastasis; based on promising pre-clinical properties and clean toxicity profile of JNJ-38877605, ORD has advanced this potent and uniquely selective c-Met inhibitor into clinical evaluation in multiple metastasized malignancies. (Poster abstract #4837)

“These new agents are just a few of the novel compounds from our pipeline that we hope may lead to the control of cancer,” Dr. Hait said. “The scientific community is attempting to identify all the genetic abnormalities within cancer cells; this has yielded a finite number of treatment opportunities. The scientific approach of ORD has the potential to generate new opportunities to improve cancer care.”


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