Novartis spends $2.1bn on candidate with blockbuster potential

By Maggie Lynch

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/kritchanut)
(Image: Getty/kritchanut)

Related tags acquistion Mergers and acquisitions Prostate cancer Cancer Oncology Fda Clinical trials

Novartis will acquire Endocyte for $2.1bn, with the core of the deal centering on the latter’s experimental therapy for prostate cancer.

Novartis’ purchase agreement came shortly after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave approval for Endocyte’s testing approach, which will see radiographic progression-free survival (rPFS) be used as an alternative primary endpoint in the drug’s clinical trials.

The drug, known as Lu-PSMA-617, is an investigational radioligand therapy (RLT) that uses pinpoint-radiation. According to Novartis, this occurs when a small molecule is used within the therapy to insert a radioactive drug at a specific target in the body.

In the case of Endocyte, the target is the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) which is found in high concentration on the diseased cell’s surface.

In a Phase II study of 50 patients, with PSMA-positive metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), those treated with the therapy showed a progression-free survival rate of 7.6 months.

The acquisition will also include Endocyte’s pipeline of additional RLTs, including Ac-PSMA-617 which is currently in preclinical studies for the treatment of mCRPC. 

In addition, Novartis will expand its chimeric antigen-receptor (CAR)-T technology research program as part of the acquisition, with Endocyte expected to submit an investigational new drug application by the end of 2018 for its adaptor-controlled CAR T-cell therapy.

Per the agreement, Endocyte and an undisclosed newly formed Novartis subsidiary will merge.

Novartis’ acquisition of Endocyte will have a $2.1 billion price tag, the company explained the expense by noting that the global market for prostate cancer treatments will reach $11 billion by 2024.

Novartis view Lu-PSMA-617 as having a large market potential, with CEO, Vas Narasimhan, suggesting it has blockbuster potential in a press release.

Neither Novartis nor Endocyte was able to make any further comment at this time. 

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