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Novartis’ acquisition of biotech company DTx Pharma boosts its neuroscience pipeline and expands its capabilities in RNA-based therapeutics.
Novartis has acquired DTx Pharma, a US-based, preclinical-stage biotechnology company, for an upfront payment of $500 million plus additional payments of up to $500 million, dependent on the completion of pre-specified milestones, the companies announced in their respective July 17, 2023 press releases.
DTx Pharma focuses on RNA-based therapeutics with its proprietary Fatty Acid Ligand Conjugated OligoNucleotide (FALCON) technology platform, which conjugates small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to naturally occurring fatty acids to enhance biodistribution and cellular uptake throughout the body. Under the acquisition, Novartis will gain access to the FALCON platform as well as DTx Pharma’s lead program, DTx-1252, a product candidate that targets the root cause of a subtype of Charcot-Marie Tooth disease (CMT)—CMT1A.
CMT1A is the overexpression of peripheral myelin protein 22 (PMP22), a protein that causes the myelin sheath insulating the nerves in the peripheral nervous system to function abnormally. DTx-1252 has been shown to decrease the expression of PMP22 in Schwann cells (target cell type), allowing for the development, maintenance, and function of peripheral nerves, according to DTx Pharma’s company press release.
Also under the acquisition, Novartis will gain two additional preclinical programs for other neuroscience indications. Together with DTx-1252 and the FALCON platform, these assets will expand Novartis’ siRNA toolkit and allow the company to build on its xRNA (i.e., ribonucleosides) capabilities, according to Novartis’ press release.
“I am thrilled that Novartis will be moving forward with our CMT1A therapeutic program and the FALCON platform. With its resources and capabilities in neuromuscular diseases, Novartis is well positioned to accelerate the development of DTx-1252 and provide hope to patients, who are desperately in need of therapy,” said Artie Suckow, co-founder and CEO of DTx Pharma, in that company’s press release.
“We look forward to continuing the development of DTx’s therapeutic programs and bringing new hope to patients with neuromuscular and other neurological disorders for which there have historically been few treatment options,” said Fiona Marshall, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, in the Novartis press release. “We are also excited to bring DTx’s FALCON technology to Novartis and explore its potential to deliver drugs to extrahepatic tissues.”