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Celsius Therapeutics, Janssen Biotech Form Biomarker Discovery Alliance

NEW YORK — Celsius Therapeutics said today that it has signed an agreement to help Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Biotech identify drug response biomarkers for an investigational ulcerative colitis drug combination.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Celsius was founded in 2018 to use single-cell genomic sequencing and informatics to discover new therapies for autoimmune disease and cancer. The company closed a $65 million Series A financing a little over a year ago.

Under the terms of the deal, Celsius will use its proprietary technologies to identify predictive biomarkers of response in a Phase IIa study evaluating a cocktail of Janssen's guselkumab (Tremfya) — which is approved in the US for plaque psoriasis — and golimumab (Simponi) — which is approved in the US for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and ulcerative colitis.  

Celsius will receive undisclosed payments, including milestones tied to the use of biomarkers identified through the alliance. Celsius will also retain the right to include clinical and sample-level data from the study into its patient and single-cell genomics database, as well as its target- and drug-discovery programs.

Additional terms were not disclosed.

"As our first industry partnership, it serves as a model for how we can apply our integrated platform to identify the specific patients who will benefit from existing and investigational therapies, while simultaneously gathering data that will fuel Celsius' novel target and drug discovery engine," Celsius CEO Tariq Kassum said in a statement.