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Novartis (NVS) Teams Up With Artios for Radioligand Therapies

Swiss pharma giant Novartis NVS entered a global research collaboration with Artios Pharma Limited, a leading DNA Damage Response (DDR) company focused on developing first-in-class treatments for cancer.

The companies have collaborated to discover and validate next-generation DDR targets to enhance Novartis' Radioligand Therapies (RLT).

Under the three-year collaboration, Artios and Novartis will perform target discovery and validation. Thereafter, Novartis will select up to three exclusive DDR targets and receive worldwide rights on these targets to be utilized with its RLTs.

Novartis will make an up-front payment of $20 million to Artios and provide near-term research funding to support the collaboration. Artios is also eligible to receive discovery, development, regulatory and sales-based milestones, in addition to royalty payments on net sales of products commercialized by Novartis. The collaboration does not include Artios’ lead programs, ART0380, or ART4215, a first-in-class Pol Theta inhibitor.

Last week, Novartis expanded its radioligand pipeline with exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize therapeutic applications for a library of Fibroblast Activation Protein (FAP) assets, including FAPI-46 and FAPI-74, through an assignment agreement with iTheranostics, Inc., an affiliate of SOFIE Biosciences, Inc.  The agreement also includes co-exclusive rights for Novartis to develop imaging applications for these assets.

Earlier, the company reported the first interpretable results from the phase III VISION study evaluating the efficacy and safety of 177Lu-PSMA-617, a targeted radioligand therapy in patients with progressive PSMA-positive metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) compared to the best standard of care alone. The study met both primary endpoints of overall survival and radiographic progression-free survival.

Radioligand therapy combines a targeting compound that binds to markers expressed by tumors and a radioactive isotope, causing DNA damage that inhibits tumor growth and replication.

Novartis is currently pursuing four different cancer treatment platforms — radioligand therapy, cell and gene therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.

Shares of Novartis have lost 7.9% so far this year compared with the industry’s decline of 1.1%.

Novartis has a strong oncology portfolio, but competition is stiff in this space from companies like Roche RHHBY, Bristol-Myers BMY and AstraZeneca AZN, among others.

Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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