Novartis Boosts Cancer Immunotherapy Research Efforts

31.03.2015 -

Novartis is accelerating its efforts in the field of cancer immunotherapy with the launch of a dedicated research group and an alliance with US-based Aduro Biotech. The multi-year collaboration is focused on developing novel immunotherapies derived from Aduro's cyclic dinucleotide (CDN) approach to target the STING (stimulator of interferon genes) receptor that, when activated, can initiate tumor-specific immune responses.

Novartis will make an upfront payment of $200 million to Aduro which, if all development milestones are met, could receive additional payments of up to $500 million. Novartis has also made an initial investment of $25 million for a 2.7% equity stake in Aduro and has committed to invest another $25 million at a future date. Aduro will lead commercialisation efforts and sales in the US, while Novartis will lead activities in the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, the research and development group will be headed by cancer vaccine expert Glenn Dranoff who has joined Novartis from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said: "Immunotherapy is one of the exciting frontiers in oncology today. STING agonists have the potential to fully activate the immune system to attack a broader range of tumors. Under Glenn Dranoff's leadership, our new immune-oncology research group will aggressively drive our current programs to the clinic and explore new directions for both mono and combination therapies."