Novartis bets $1.6bn on inflammation-focused biotech

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Magicmine)
(Image: Getty/Magicmine)

Related tags Novartis IFM Tre IFM Therapeutics NASH

Novartis to acquire IFM Tre to gain access to one clinical and two pre-clinical assets, which are designed to combat chronic inflammatory conditions.

The Swiss pharma company is prepared to pay $310m (€275m) in up-front costs, with $1.265bn held back in milestone payments, to acquire IFM Tre and its assets.

Novartis will receive IFM-2427 as part of the deal, which is a clinical-stage candidate that is an NLPR3 antagonist under investigation for chronic inflammatory disorders, including atherosclerosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The candidate is currently undergoing a Phase I trial, which was announced last week and will run for approximately nine months.

The two pre-clinical assets acquired target inflammatory bowel disease and the central nervous system.

“IFM Tre’s compounds have demonstrated that they can fine-tune the immune system, offering a potentially potent approach for treating a large variety of diseases associated with inflammation,” ​said Jay Bradner, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.

The NLPR3 antagonists are being explored because the abnormal or chronic activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome is known to cause the onset and progression of inflammatory diseases.

Gary Glick, CEO of IFM Therapeutics, told us that the company had chosen to partner with Novartis due to “[its] leadership position not only in bringing anti-inflammatory therapies to market, but specifically for its leadership in IL-1 biology.”

IFM Tre is a subsidiary of IFM Therapeutics LCC, with the original IFM Therapeutics company being bought out by Bristol-Myers Squibb for its pre-clinical therapies targeting the innate immune system in 2017​. Following the deal, IFM Therapeutics LLC was formed, retaining the same personnel and facilities, as well as certain research programs.

After the acquisition, IFM Therapeutics LCC will still possess IFM Due, another subsidiary with two projects at the discovery stage, and an additional program focusing on a NLRP1 antagonist.

The deal is expected to close by in the second quarter of 2019.

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