Oxford Science Enterprises portfolio company DJS Antibodies to be acquired by AbbVie

October 20, 2022

Oxford Science Enterprises portfolio company DJS Antibodies to be acquired by AbbVie

Oxford, UK: October 20, 2022 – Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE), the independent investment company created to found, fund and build transformational businesses via its unique partnership with the University of Oxford, is pleased to announce its life sciences portfolio company DJS Antibodies (DJS) is to be acquired by AbbVie, the research-based global biopharmaceutical company.

Under the terms of the agreement, AbbVie will pay DJS shareholders approximately $255 million in cash at closing for the acquisition of the company. DJS shareholders remain eligible for potential additional payments upon the achievement of certain development milestones related to the success of the DJS-002 programme. AbbVie anticipates retaining all current DJS employees and its facility in Oxford.

DJS, founded in 2014 by University of Oxford alumni David Llewellyn (a Rhodes Scholar) and Joe Illingworth, is a biotechnology company dedicated to discovering and developing antibody medicines that target difficult-to-drug disease-causing proteins, such as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). DJS’ lead programme is DJS-002, a potential first-in-class lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) receptor 1 (LPAR1) antagonist antibody currently in investigational preclinical studies for the treatment of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and other fibrotic diseases. IPF is an aggressive, high mortality disease caused by fibrotic scarring in the lungs and remains an area of high unmet medical need.

DJS has also developed its proprietary HEPTAD platform as a novel approach to antibody discovery with specific capabilities targeting transmembrane protein targets. AbbVie intends to access the HEPTAD platform as a complement to its current robust capabilities in biotherapeutics research. DJS will leverage AbbVie’s extensive drug discovery expertise to continue generating antibody therapeutics and novel biology insights against targets like GPCRs, which have previously been intractable to biologics approaches.

DJS was founded with support from OSE and Johnson & Johnson Innovation and in 2020 raised £6 million in a Series A financing co-led by LifeArc and Sedgwick Yard, with participation from Amgen Ventures and follow-on investment from OSE.

Katya Smirnyagina, Senior Partner, Life Sciences at OSE, said: “We have been hugely impressed with the progress made by DJS over the past few years and are delighted that the vision and drive of its entrepreneurial team has been recognised through this acquisition. AbbVie is gaining a pipeline of highly innovative antibody therapeutic programmes with the potential to treat severe fibrotic and inflammatory diseases where treatment options for patients are insufficient. AbbVie’s therapeutic area and development expertise will be crucial to progressing these novel therapeutics towards patients. At OSE, we are very proud to have supported David and Joe on their journey, not least because of the potential benefits that patients might derive from effective new treatment options, but also because their success will inspire the next generation of entrepreneurial scientists that OSE can back in the coming years.”

David Llewellyn, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of DJS Antibodies, said: “Building DJS has required innovative science, an enormously dedicated and talented team, plenty of hard work, and a good dose of luck. OSE has been instrumental in creating the innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Oxford that is essential for companies like DJS, enabling them to take risks and pursue cutting-edge science. We are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work within this community, and proud that our team has been able to utilise the opportunity to deliver an exciting pipeline with the potential to really help patients suffering from chronic inflammatory and fibrotic diseases.”

Joe Illingworth, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of DJS Antibodies, added: “DJS is proud of what we have achieved to date, but we remain eager to utilise our antibody discovery technology to generate even more programmes into the future. The whole team is incredibly excited to take the next step in this journey with AbbVie as we work together to accelerate the translation of our lead programme into the clinic and develop an exciting research centre here in the UK.”

View the full press release at AbbVie’s news page



Notes to Editors

About DJS Antibodies

Based in Oxford, UK, DJS Antibodies is a biotechnology company dedicated to creating the next generation of antibody therapeutics. DJS Antibodies utilizes their proprietary HEPTAD platform to enable antibody discovery to GPCRs and other intractable targets. Using HEPTAD, the company has generated a unique pipeline including DJS-002, a novel antibody targeting LPAR1 for the treatment of chronic fibrotic diseases.


About Oxford Science Enterprises

Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE) is an independent, billion-pound investment company, created in 2015 to found, fund and build transformational businesses via its unique partnership with the University of Oxford, the world’s #1 research university.

This partnership enables OSE to work with the brightest academic minds tackling the world’s toughest challenges and guarantees unrivalled access to their scientific research. In collaboration with its global network of entrepreneurs and advisers, OSE shapes and nurtures complex ideas into successful businesses, while targeting attractive returns for shareholders.

Actively focused on a core portfolio of around 40 companies spanning three high-growth, high-impact sectors – Life Sciences, Health Tech, and Deep Tech – the company adopts a flexible, long-term investment approach, recognising the path from ground-breaking research to global markets takes time and resilience.

To date, OSE has invested £0.5 billion in over 80 ambitious companies built on Oxford science.

A key player in Oxford’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, OSE is highly motivated to foster an environment that catalyses pioneering research and steers it to commercial success.

Find out more: oxfordscienceenterprises.com | Twitter | LinkedIn


Oxford Science Enterprises

Lisa Bedwell – media@oxfordsciences.com

For media enquiries:

Mark Swallow, Sandi Greenwood, Eleanor Perkin – MEDiSTRAVA Consulting


+44 (0)203 928 6900


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