Novartis Takes US Biotech IFM Tre

03.04.2019 -

Swiss drugmaker Novartis has agreed to buy US biotech IFM Tre in a deal worth nearly $1.6 billion, boosting its portfolio of anti-inflammatory medicines. Novartis will pay $310 million upfront with IFM eligible to receive up to another $1.265 billion in milestone payments.

IFM Tre is a subsidiary of IFM Therapeutics, which was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb for $2.3 billion in 2017.

The deal gives the Swiss drugs giant access to IFM Tre’s portfolio of NLRP3 inhibitors, comprising one clinical and two preclinical programs. The three potential therapies include IFM-2427, a clinical-stage systemic antagonist for an array of chronic inflammatory disorders including gout, atherosclerosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH); a preclinical-stage gut-directed molecule for inflammatory bowel disease; and a preclinical-stage central nervous system (CNS)-penetrant molecule.

The NLRP3 pathway plays a critical role in the body’s immune system by fighting off potentially dangerous pathogens but its chronic activation is associated with several metabolic, fibrotic, autoimmune and neurological diseases. Preclinical studies have shown that IFM Tre’s molecules can selectively suppress the inflammation caused by the NLRP3 inflammasome while allowing the rest of the immune system to continue as normal.

“IFM Tre's compounds have demonstrated that they can fine-tune the immune system, offering a potentially potent approach for treating a large variety of diseases associated with inflammation,” said Jay Bradner, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. “We look forward to applying our deep expertise in this field to advancing these medicines through the clinic and to patients who need them.”

The companies expect the transaction to close during the second quarter of 2019, subject to the usual conditions and antitrust clearance.

In separate news, Novartis has announced that it has met all the conditions required to spin off its Alcon eye care business and anticipates completing the transaction on Apr 9. Each Novartis shareholder will receive one Alcon share for every 5 Novartis shares held at close of business on Apr. 8.

Shares in Alcon will be listed on both the SIX Swiss and New York Stock Exchanges.