Novartis to acquire anti-inflammatory drugmaker IFM Tre in $1.6bn deal

Swiss pharma giant Novartis has agreed to acquire IFM Tre from US biopharma company IFM Therapeutics in a deal worth up to $1.575bn, to add certain immunomodulatory medicines to its portfolio.

IFM Tre, which was launched in July 2018, is currently developing a suite of NLRP3 antagonists for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

NLRP3, which expands to NOD-, LRR- and pyrin domain-containing 3, is an intracellular innate immune signaling receptor that enables immune cells to detect the presence of pro-inflammatory foreign or endogenous molecules that signal infection, metabolic derangements or tissue damage.

When activated, NLRP3 initiates an inflammatory response through the assembly of a multi-protein complex, known as inflammasome.

As per the terms of the deal, IFM Therapeutics will get upfront payments of $310m from Novartis and will be eligible to receive up to $1.265bn in the form of milestone payments.

IFM Therapeutics CEO and co-founder Gary Glick said: “Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in the development of next-generation therapies for serious inflammatory conditions.

“Based on substantial pre-clinical and translational data, we believe NLRP3 inhibition represents a novel approach to preventing the overactive inflammation that drives the onset and progression of numerous metabolic, fibrotic, autoimmune and neurological diseases.”

Through the acquisition, Novartis will get complete rights to IFM Tre’s NLPR3 antagonist portfolio, made up of one clinical and two pre-clinical programs.

The clinical stage program in the deal is IFM-2427, which is a systemic antagonist for a range of chronic inflammatory disorders such as atherosclerosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The two pre-clinical stage programs of IFM Tre to be acquired by Novartis under the deal are a gut-directed molecule for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, and a central nervous system (CNS)-penetrant molecule.

Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research president Jay Bradner said: “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.

“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 transaction, which will be subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2019.

In another development, AveXis, a Novartis company, agreed to acquire an advanced biologics therapy manufacturing campus in Longmont, Colorado. The campus is planned to be used for manufacturing AveXis gene therapies for a pipeline of rare genetic diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy.

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