Deal puts J&J in the vaccine business
Under the deal, outlined yesterday, Johnson & Johnson is spending $440 million for new shares of Crucell. Initially, the focus will be on developing a universal vaccine or treatment against influenza from Crucell’s genetically engineered antibody technology. A universal flu vaccine - one that would work against all or most strains, rather than having to be reformulated every flu season - has been an elusive goal.
Longer term, Crucell and Johnson & Johnson will work on developing vaccines and possibly treatments based on antibodies against additional diseases. Antibodies are proteins made by white blood cells to target specific invaders.
“There are three potential compounds that are not disclosed in this deal,’’ J&J spokesman Frederik Wittock said, referring to potential vaccines and treatments. The companies aren’t saying what conditions they would target, but the compounds primarily would fight infectious diseases.
Johnson & Johnson, with about $64 billion in annual sales, is the world’s biggest health care company.