Novartis to Acquire Mariana Oncology

03.05.2024 - Swiss drugmaker Novartis agreed to acquire Mariana Oncology, a US biotechnology company based in Watertown, Massachusetts, that develops novel radioligand therapies (RLTs) for the treatment of cancer.

Under the terms of the agreement, Novartis will make an upfront payment of $1 billion and additional $750 million in payments upon completion of pre-specified milestones. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.

With the acquisition, Novartis will add what it calls a “robust portfolio of RLT programs spanning lead optimization to early development across a range of solid tumor indications such as breast, prostate and lung cancer – including development candidate MC-339, an actinium-based RLT being investigated in small cell lung cancer.”

“The acquisition of Mariana Oncology reflects our commitment to radioligand therapy as one of our company’s key technology platforms and strengthens our leadership in this field,” said Fiona Marshall, president of Biomedical Research at Novartis.

RLTs, or radiopharmaceuticals, are a form of precision medicine that combines a tumor-targeting molecule (ligand) with a therapeutic radioisotope (a radioactive particle). RLTs bind to specific receptors expressed on the surface of certain types of tumors. Once bound to a target cell, emissions from the therapeutic radioisotope cause DNA damage that can inhibit cell growth and replication and potentially trigger cell death. This targeted approach, Novartis said, enables the delivery of radiation to the tumor, while limiting damage to the surrounding cells.

According to Novartis, it has currently two approved RLTs for certain patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and for certain types of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. The company’s early and late pipeline has several programs in or entering the clinic, including a spectrum of studies and assets for prostate cancer, as well as other preclinical and discovery programs to identify novel RLTs, the company said.


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