Express Pharma

Novartis, University of Pennsylvania form broad-based R&D alliance

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Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) announced an exclusive global collaboration to research, develop and commercialise targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) immunotherapies for the treatment of cancers. In addition, the parties will jointly establish a new research and development facility on the Penn campus, called the Center for Advanced Cellular Therapies (CACT).

Under the terms of the agreement, Penn grants Novartis an exclusive worldwide license to CARs developed through the collaboration for all indications and CART-19. In addition Novartis will provide an up-front payment, research funding, funding for the establishment of the CACT and milestone payments for the achievement of certain clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones and royalty payments.

“By combining Penn’s expertise on this pioneering technology with Novartis’ strength in bringing innovative therapies to patients, we have the potential to transform the future of cancer treatment,” said Hervé Hoppenot, President, Novartis Oncology.

In CAR immunotherapy, immune cells (T cells) are drawn from a patient’s blood. Then, using CAR technology, the T cells are re-coded to identify and seek out cells that express proteins present on a patient’s cancerous tumor. When the T cells are re-introduced into the patient’s blood, they bind to the targeted cancer cells and destroy them.

As part of the transaction, Novartis acquired exclusive rights from Penn to CART-19, a novel investigational CAR therapy, currently being studied by Penn in a pilot clinical trial. CART-19 targets a protein called CD19 that is associated with a number of B-cell malignancies such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), B-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

To accelerate the discovery and development of additional therapies using CAR immunotherapy, Novartis and Penn will build the Center for Advanced Cellular Therapies on the Penn campus in Philadelphia. This will be a first-of-its-kind research and development center established specifically to develop and manufacture adoptive T-cell immunotherapies under the research collaboration guided by scientists and clinicians from Novartis and Penn.

“This collaboration underscores our commitment to working with partners that are at the forefront of science and medicine,” said Mark Fishman, President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. “Immunotherapy is one of the exciting frontiers in cancer research and the CAR technology developed by the team at Penn has shown early promise as a new way for treating cancer.”

EP News Bureau

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