Novartis expands cancer immunotherapy research program with acquisition of CoStim

NovartisNovartis announced today that it is broadening its cancer immunotherapy research program with the acquisition of CoStim Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Cambridge, MA-based, privately held biotechnology company focused on harnessing the immune system to eliminate immune-blocking signals from cancer.

Increasing evidence points to the role of the immune system in controlling cancer and to opportunities for creating effective oncology therapies for cancer patients by stimulating a targeted immune response. Already leading in cancer immunotherapy, with investigative chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology being developed in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania, with this acquisition Novartis is adding late discovery stage immunotherapy programs directed to several targets, including PD-1. These medicines could benefit patients by circumventing cancer's ability to develop resistance against current single drugs.

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

Financial terms are not disclosed.

About Novartis
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2013, the Group achieved net sales of USD 57.9 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.9 billion (USD 9.6 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 136,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world.

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