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18 February 2014Americas

Novartis boosts cancer immunotherapy research with CoStim acquisition

Novartis has announced it will acquire biotechnology company CoStim for an undisclosed sum.

CoStim Pharmaceuticals is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It focuses on using the immune system to eliminate immune-blocking signals from cancer.

Novartis hopes the CoStim acquisition will accelerate its cancer immunotherapy programme.

It said that there is “increasing evidence” that the immune system has a role in controlling cancer, which suggests opportunities for creating oncology therapies that stimulate a targeted immune response.

Novartis is currently developing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology, a potential cancer therapy, with the University of Pennsylvania.

Its deal with CoStim adds late discovery immunotherapy programmes that are directed to targets including PD-1, a protein thought to negatively regulate immune response.

“These medicines could benefit patients by circumventing cancer’s ability to develop resistance against current single drugs,” Novartis said.

Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said: “Therapy for many types of cancers are expected to increasingly rely upon rational combinations of agents.

“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.”

CoStim did not respond to LSIPR’s request for comment.

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