Novartis has entered into an agreement and plan of merger with Endocyte, a US -based biopharmaceutical company focused on developing targeted therapeutics for cancer treatment. Novartis will pay $24 a share to acquire the company.
Endocyte's radioligand portfolio, now in mid-stage trials for cancer treatment, will supplement Novartis' oncology pipeline of 33 candidates.
Narasimhan said that transaction prompted Novartis to expand relationships with US and European nuclear medicine centers.
Novartis said in September that it will cut 2,550 jobs in Switzerland and Britain over four years, as the it strives to boost profits and focus on new medicines. Novartis earlier this year announced the purchase of rare-disease drugmaker AveXis Inc. for $8.7 billion.
Lu-PSMA-617 targets the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), present in the majority of patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), and has shown promising phase 2 data.
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Novartis said radiopharma is a "key growth driver" for its business and that Endocyte's offer "significant sales potential" from Lu-PSMA-617, particularly if its use can be extended into earlier-stage prostate cancer, as well as early-stage development programmes.
It is developing Vintafolide, a SMDC that is in Phase IIb clinical trial to treat non-small cell lung cancer; EC1456, which is in Phase I dose escalation trial for the treatment of advanced solid tumors; and EC1169, a tubulysin therapeutic that is in Phase I dose escalation trial to treat advanced metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.
It's worth pointing out that buying Endocyte also gives Novartis an additional platform in CAR-T cancer immunotherapy to complement its current assets, including already-marketed therapy Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) for CD19-positive blood cancers. Until regulatory and other approvals are met, Endocyte will remain independent.
"Novartis has a strong legacy of addressing unmet needs with transformative therapies and is building a leadership capability in new, technology-driven platforms that address some of the world's most complex health challenges, including cancer".
That is a great result for Endocyte-its shares rose 50%. Novartis expects to fund the acquisition through available cash.