Johnson & Johnson's Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc., based in Horsham, says it's bought London-based asthma-drug maker RespiVert Ltd. for an undisclosed price. Announcement here. Highlights:

Centocor calls RespiVert "a privately held drug discovery company focused on developing small-molecule, inhaled therapies for the treatment of pulmonary diseases.

"The company's lead compounds, RV-568 and RV-1088, narrow spectrum kinase inhibitors with a unique profile of anti-inflammatory activities, are progressing into clinical development as potential first-in-class treatments for moderate to severe asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Cystic Fibrosis (CF).  The clinical development of RV-568 and RV-1088 will be led by RespiVert in collaboration with scientists at Centocor Research and Development, Inc.," including Susan Dillon PhD, head of immunology research there.

Dr. Garth Rapeport, RespiVert chief executive, "is remaining with RespiVert following the acquisition." In the statement he said the company is developing "completely new treatment options to patients who suffer from severe, chronic respiratory diseases including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, severe asthma and Cystic Fibrosis."