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Novartis announced that it entered into a multiyear alliance with Aduro Biotech to develop cancer immunotherapies, offering up to $250 million in upfront payments and equity investments.
Novartis announced on March 30, 2015 that it entered into a multiyear alliance with Aduro Biotech to discover and develop next-generation cancer immunotherapies. As part of the agreement, a new immuno-oncology research group will be formed, and research will focus on immunotherapies that target the STING (stimulator of interferon genes) pathway. Novartis will make an upfront payment of $200 million to Aduro and an initial equity investment in the company equaling $25 million. A commitment of an additional $25 million equity investment was also announced as part of the agreement, but will be paid at a future date.
According to Aduro Biotech’s website, the company is “developing a family of proprietary derivatives of STING-modulating [cyclic dinucleotides] CDNs.” This signaling pathway initiates broad innate and adaptive immune responses in tumors, according to the press release. The alliance will broaden Novartis’ existing immunotherapy portfolio, which includes CTL019, a chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CART) therapy that received a Breakthrough Therapy designation from FDA in July 2014 and experienced positive results from a study completed by the University of Pennsylvania and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in October 2014.
"Immunotherapy is one of the exciting frontiers in oncology today. Current approaches with checkpoint inhibitors and T-cell modulation are potent but only in select tumor types. STING agonists have the potential to fully activate the immune system to attack a broader range of tumors,” said Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, in a press release. “Under Glenn Dranoff's leadership, our new immuno-oncology research group will aggressively drive our current programs to the clinic and explore new directions for both mono and combination therapies.