Genmab has received a major boost after licensing its cancer drug daratumumab to Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Biotech unit in a deal that could net the Danish firm over $1 billion.

Daratumumab, a human CD38 monoclonal antibody, is currently in development for multiple myeloma and may have potential in other cancer indications such as acute myeloid leukemia.  Under the terms of the agreement, Genmab will receive an upfront fee of $55 million and will be entitled to $1 billion in development, regulatory and sales milestones, in addition to tiered double-digit royalties.

J&J is also investing approximately $80 million to buy 5.4 million new shares of Genmab, which will give the healthcare giant a 10.7% stake in the Danish biotech. Janssen will be fully responsible for all costs associated with developing daratumumab, including the costs of two ongoing Phase I/II studies.

William Hait, head of Janssen R&D, said his firm was "one of the first companies to recognise the power and promise of monoclonal antibodies a world leader in biologics:. He added that "we look forward to applying that same expertise to daratumumab to help meet the needs of patients with multiple myeloma".

Genmab chief executive Jan van de Winkel said the agreement "significantly strengthens our financial position", ensuring that the company "can continue to develop much-needed differentiated antibody therapeutics to help cancer patients in the future".