The firm, Capricor Therapeutics, last month received approval for a phase two clinical trial for its heart disease therapy. Yesterday, it announced that the Janssen Biotech arm of Johnson&Johnson was immediately pumping $12.5 million into the product with the potential of $325 million more, depending on the outcome of the phase two trial.
Linda Marban, CEO of Capricor, told Fierce Biotech that J&J had been probing Capricor for a year. She said,
“One of the reasons why I was motivated to work on this deal is because of the statement it makes in the field. It says, OK, somebody very large and powerful is taking a look at this technology and saying there's something there, and that's the most exciting thing for me."
Johnson&Johnson's investment is not the first tied to a key executive at Capricor, Frank Litvack, who is executive chairman of the firm. Litvack, who unsuccessfully ran in 2011 against Jonathan Thomas for the chairmanship of the stem cell agency, sold Conor MedSystems to J&J for $1.6 billion in 2006.
“Mark Athens received Capricor’s treatment on Sept. 25, about a month after having a moderate heart attack. The Encinitas resident was the last treated under Phase 1, said Scripps cardiologist Richard Schatz, who performed the procedure. It will take about six months to know whether the treatment worked, Schatz said.”
“'All their previous work showed that the scar got smaller and the muscle tissue around it got more robust,' Schatz said. 'So two things happened: The viable tissue got bigger and the scar got smaller. And that should translate into some sort of clinical benefit down the road.'”