NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Johnson & Johnson announced Tuesday that its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies will expand its existing partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, to seek treatment solutions for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 (also known as 2019-nCoV). This latest collaboration will enhance Janssen’s ongoing work with global partners to screen a library of existing antiviral molecules, with the aim of identifying compounds with promising antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2.
The expanded partnership with BARDA builds on Johnson & Johnson’s multipronged response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These efforts, in addition to the ongoing development of a potential vaccine candidate, bring hope of finding a solution against COVID-19 for communities in greatest need in China and around the world.
“We must engage in rigorous research and development in order to identify therapeutic candidates with antiviral activity against the novel coronavirus. Our ambitious goal is to bring forward a solution for patients and ensure future generations do not have to live in fear of the potentially serious consequences of COVID-19,” said Dr. Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer, Johnson & Johnson. “We have a proven track record in partnering with others to develop and deliver antiviral therapies that serve the needs of diverse populations worldwide. While we are at early stages, we are making that commitment again.”
To screen potential compounds, Janssen will work with the Rega Institute for Medical Research (KU Leuven), in Belgium. The arrangement couples the Institute’s infrastructure, breadth of high throughput screening experience, and capabilities for studying special pathogens with Janssen’s drug development resources and antiviral expertise.
Janssen and BARDA will share the research and development costs and mobilize resources to screen a library of antiviral molecules for activity against SARS-CoV-2. The agreement was created under an existing U.S. Government’s Other Transaction Authority (OTA), HHSO100201800012C. This is a different agreement from the OTA under which Janssen’s SARS-CoV-2 vaccine research is being conducted.
COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2, which belongs to a group of viruses called coronaviruses that attack the respiratory system. There is currently no licensed vaccine, treatment or cure for COVID-19.