Novartis to purchase CoStim Pharmaceuticals

Will add late discovery stage immunotherapy programmes directed to several targets

Novartis is to buy CoStim Pharmaceuticals, a privately held biotechnology company focused on harnessing the immune system to eliminate immune-blocking signals from cancer, for an undisclosed price.

The Swiss drugmaker said the transaction follows increasing evidence to the role of the immune system in controlling cancer. The company is already a leader in cancer immunotherapy, with investigative chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology being developed in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania. This deal with CoStim, based in Cambridge, MA, US, will add late discovery stage immunotherapy programmes 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 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.'