Janssen, the pharma division of Johnson & Johnson, has entered an agreement with Cambridge, UK-based Mestag Therapeutics to research and develop novel fibroblast targets for the treatment of inflammatory disease.

The collaboration will utilise Mestag’s specialist fibroblast subpopulation biology platform, as well as the biotech’s ‘state-of-the-art’ data analytics in a bid to identify novel therapeutic targets.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mestag will grant Janssen an option to an exclusive license to develop and commercialise therapeutics directed against up to two targets resulting from the collaboration.

In exchange, Janssen will pay Mestag option fees, milestone payments and royalties – however, the detailed financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed by the companies.

Also, as part of the collaboration, Janssen Research & Development’s global immunology therapeutic head David Lee will join Mestag’s scientific advisory committee.

“Mestag’s vision is to leverage our unique fibroblast biology platform and state-of-the-art data analytics to enable precision medicine breakthroughs in disease areas with high unmet medical need,” said Susan Hill, chief executive officer of Mestag.

“We are delighted to validate our approach through this innovative partnership with Janssen and we look forward to working with the Janssen Research & Development scientists to benefit patients,” she added.

Mestag will also continue to develop its own inflammatory disease and cancer programmes as it works to advance its pipeline of potential first-in-class therapeutics into the clinic, alongside the Janssen collaboration.

The company is aiming to develop new medicines by targeting activated fibroblast populations and understand their role in influencing immune effector cells in disease.