NicoElnino /
22 October 2018Americas

Novartis to acquire radiopharma treatment developer

Novartis is planning to acquire Endocyte, an Indiana-based biotech, to accelerate its development of radiopharmaceuticals.

The Swiss pharmaceutical company announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Endocyte on Thursday, October 18.

Endocyte develops novel therapeutics which are designed to deliver cancer therapies to the precise site of a patient’s disease, allowing the treatment of diseases while “sparing” the healthy surrounding tissues.

The radiopharmaceutical programmes developed by Endocyte have “significant sales potential”, according to Novartis’s statement.

In particular, the acquisition would add 177Lu-PSMA-617, an investigational radioligand therapy (RLT) for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), to the Swiss company’s portfolio.

The treatment, which works by targeting the prostate-specific membrane antigen, is currently being investigated in a phase III global clinical trial for men with mCRPC.

Currently, mCRPC has limited treatment options and represents a significant unmet medical need, Novartis said.

“The deal would also enable Novartis to harness its research and development expertise to investigate the potential development of 177Lu-PSMA-617 for use in earlier lines of prostate cancer therapy,” Novartis said.

If the Endocyte acquisition is completed, it would expand Novartis’s RLT platform with an impact on product launches and clinical development. The transaction itself would be in the form of a merger of Endocyte and a newly-formed Novartis subsidiary.

Liz Barrett, CEO of Novartis oncology, said: “The proposed acquisition of Endocyte builds on our growing capability in radiopharmaceuticals, which is expected to be an increasingly important treatment option for patients and a key growth driver for our business.”

Barrett added that the company is excited to break into the prostate cancer sphere with a near-term product with the potential to have a meaningful impact for patients.

Under the terms of the agreement, Novartis would acquire all outstanding shares of Endocyte common stock.

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