There ain’t no rest for the wicked when it comes to dealmaking at the 2024 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Shortly after several Big Pharma names like Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Novartis announced a trio of major deals, GSK has now entered the mix. 

The British pharma giant announced Tuesday morning that it will acquire Aiolos Bio for $1 billion upfront, with up to $400 million in potential milestone payments.

With Aiolos under its wing, GSK now has access to AIO-001, a long-acting anti-thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) monoclonal antibody that’s currently being investigated in people with asthma. AIO-001 may have potential for other indications, such as chronic rhinosinusitis and nasal polyps.

Drugs that target the TSLP pathway are designed to tackle this key driver of inflammation that’s found in allergic and inflammatory diseases, such as asthma.

The move reflects GSK’s growing interest in expanding its respiratory pipeline, according to Tony Wood, chief scientific officer. AIO-001, which thus far has shown initial safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics in early studies, may hold promise for patients who currently don’t have other treatment options, he added.

In particular, the treatment may reach a broader population of the 315 million people living with asthma, including people with low T2 inflammation, regardless of their biomarker status.

In addition, if AIO-001 advances, it may only need to be administered every six months, which “could redefine the standard-of-care,” a press release noted.

“We have a proud heritage and deep development expertise in respiratory medicines, especially addressing diseases driven by IL-5 with high levels of eosinophils or high T2 inflammation,” Wood explained in a statement. “Adding AIO-001, a potentially best-in-class medicine targeting the TSLP pathway, could expand the reach of our current respiratory biologics portfolio, including to the 40% of severe asthma patients with low T2 inflammation where treatment options are still needed.”

With solid momentum at its back, GSK is moving forward at an ambitious pace in 2024.

In GSK’s earnings report for Q3 2023, the company said its RSV vaccine Arexvy boosted its performance, with its total sales up 10% year-over-year. Its vaccine division, which includes Shingrix and Arexvy, saw sales rise 33%.

Recently, GSK picked up an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) in cancer from Hansoh Pharma for up to $1.7 billion.

GSK follows in the footsteps of other major pharma players who have entered the TSLP space in recent years. Some may recall, Amgen and AstraZeneca’s anti-TSLP antibody, Tezspire, winning a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for severe asthma in 2021.

GSK will now be banking on AIO-001 to offer competition to Tezspire, if it advances further. Aiolos CEO Khurem Farooq said in a statement that the company is confident it can rapidly advance this therapy in the hopes of significantly reducing the treatment burden for patients.