J&J taps BioMed X for crowdsourced oral biologics delivery push

Johnson & Johnson has teamed up with BioMed X Institute to advance oral delivery of monoclonal antibodies and other biologics. The initiative will support the work of a small team that will work to identify ways to get large molecules across the intestinal epithelial barrier.

Prior research into the oral administration of biologics has identified ways to protect the molecules from the conditions they face in the gastrointestinal tract. Those shielding mechanisms mitigate one of the main barriers to the oral delivery of biologics but do nothing to solve the problem of how to get the molecules into systemic circulation.

The J&J-BioMed X collaboration is focused on that problem. Following a crowdsourcing model it has used on many projects with Big Pharma partners, BioMed X is seeking applications from early-career biomedical researchers with a background that suggests they can tackle the problem.

BioMed X has the money to fund a group leader, two postdoctoral researchers and two research assistants. The team will work on a project titled “Translocation of Complex Macromolecules Across the Intestinal Epithelial Barrier.”

J&J teamed up with BioMed X to address that topic after gaining first-hand experience of how its crowdsourced approach to research works. BioMed X first began working with J&J’s Janssen in 2017 on a project that sought to quickly identify auto-antigens in autoimmune diseases. J&J added a second project focused on ways to restore homeostasis in autoimmune patients last year. Another part of J&J partnered with BioMed X in 2016 to research the disruption of oral biofilms.

The J&J projects are part of a series of Big Pharma collaborations dating back eight years. In that time, BioMed X has worked with companies including Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck KGaA and Roche to foster preclinical research into ways to improve the treatment of disease.