Swiss drug maker Novartis (NYSE:NVS) said in a statement on Monday that it will acquire CoStim Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, to broaden its cancer immunotherapy research program.
CoStim's main field of research, which focuses on producing antibody agents that prevent immune-blocking signals from cancer, is expected to reach annual sales of $35 billion, according to a news report by Bloomberg. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
“Therapy for many types of cancers are expected to increasingly rely upon rational combinations of agents,” Mark Fishman, president of Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said in a statement.
This acquisition will add to several programs that Novartis has for cancer therapies including a chimeric antigen receptor or CAR technology being developed in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania. With this deal, Novartis is targeting PD-1, which is reportedly the next big target for cancer.
Immunotherapy involves coaxing patients’ immune cells to recognize and attack their tumors. This technology is reportedly the latest frontier of cancer research following tried and tested methods such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
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Companies like Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Roche (OTCMKTS:RHHBY) are working to use the human immune system to coordinate a powerful attack on cancer. And, for Novartis, the deal with CoStim will strengthen the company's hold over cancer immunotherapy discovery and will add to its CAR technology.
“Immunotherapy agents provide additional arrows in our quiver for such combinations. They complement our extensive portfolio of drugs that hit genetically-defined cancer-causing pathways, and also may be relevant to expansion of CAR therapies,” Fishman said.