The first deal involves a $250 million payment to Calypso Biotech, a spin-out from Merck KGaA, for the acquisition of CALY-002, an anti-IL-15 monoclonal antibody. CALY-002 targets the cytokine IL-15, implicated in various autoimmune diseases. With Phase 1b trials already in progress for celiac disease and eosinophilic esophagitis, Novartis plans to explore its potential in a range of autoimmune conditions with high unmet medical needs.
In another significant move, Novartis has entered into two license and collaboration agreements with Shanghai Argo Biopharmaceutical, focusing on RNA-focused biotech for cardiovascular diseases. The transaction is valued at $185 million in upfront payments. These agreements grant Novartis an exclusive global license for a Phase I asset and an option to license programs for up to two cardiovascular targets. Additionally, Novartis secures an exclusive license for a Phase I/IIa program outside China and nearby regions. Shanghai Argo stands to gain from option and milestone payments, along with tiered royalties, potentially elevating the deal’s value to $4.1 billion, excluding royalties.
Shanghai Argo’s pipeline includes three cardiovascular assets, BW-01, BW-02, and BW-05, developed using their RADS platform, which allows for long-lasting treatments with potentially just one injection per year. Novartis, with a history of investing in RNA-based therapeutics, views these programs as complementary to its own pipeline in the cardiovascular realm.
These deals represent a strategic expansion for Novartis in the biopharma industry, especially following its recent investments like the 2023 acquisition of DTx Pharma for RNA-based neuroscience therapies and The Medicines Company for RNA drug inclisiran for high cholesterol, which resulted in the FDA-approved Leqvio.
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