Novartis, Aduro Biotech Sign Immunotherapy Pact
Novartis has formed a major multiyear alliance with Aduro Biotech that is focused on the discovery and development of cancer immunotherapies targeting the STING (Stimulator of Interferon Genes) pathway and has launched a new immuno-oncology research group led by cancer vaccine expert Glenn Dranoff, MD.
Under the terms of the agreement with Aduro, Novartis will make an upfront payment of $200 million to Aduro and will make an initial equity investment in the company for $25 million, with a commitment for another $25 million equity investment at a future date. Aduro will lead commercialization activities and book sales in the US, with Novartis leading commercialization and recognizing sales in the rest of the world. The companies will share in profits in the US, Japan, and major European countries. Novartis will pay Aduro a royalty for sales in the rest of the world.
STING is a signaling pathway that when activated is known to initiate broad innate and adaptive immune responses in tumors. Aduro’s small-molecule cyclic dinucleotides (CDN’s) have proven to generate an immune response in preclinical models that specifically attacks tumor cells. The addition of STING agonists adds to Novartis’ portfolio of immunotherapies that includes chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CART) technology and checkpoint inhibitors. Currently the CART program, CTL019, is in Phase 2 clinical trials and checkpoint inhibitors targeting PD1, LAG3, and TIM3 are expected to enter the clinic in mid-2015.