Novartis acquires biotechnology company CoStim Pharmaceuticals

NovartisSwiss drugmaker Novartis International AG today said that it has acquired US-based biotechnology company CoStim Pharmaceuticals Inc, focused on harnessing the immune system to eliminate immune-blocking signals from cancer, for an undisclosed sum.

Founded in 2011 and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, privately-held CoStim is developing novel biologics targeting immune checkpoint inhibitors for oncology indications.

CoStim is backed by investors, including Atlas Venture, MPM Capital, and J&J Development Corp.

Novartis said that the acquisition will broaden its cancer immunotherapy research program.

Basel-based Novartis said that increasing evidence points to the role of the immune system in controlling cancer and to opportunities for creating effective oncology therapies for cancer patients by stimulating a targeted immune response.

''With this acquisition Novartis is adding late discovery stage immunotherapy programs directed to several targets, including PD-1. These medicines could benefit patients by circumventing cancer's ability to develop resistance against current single drugs,'' it added.

"Therapy for many types of cancers are expected to increasingly rely upon rational combinations of agents," said Dr. Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.

"Immunotherapy agents provide additional arrows in our quiver for such combinations. They complement our extensive portfolio of drugs that hit genetically-defined cancer-causing pathways, and also may be relevant to expansion of CAR therapies," he added.