Novartis Expands Immunotherapy Portfolio With CoStim Acquisition

Novartis AG (NOVN) agreed to buy CoStim Pharmaceuticals Inc., expanding its reach in immunotherapeutics, a new field of cancer drugs that may reach $35 billion in annual sales.

Novartis will acquire Cambridge, Massachusetts-based CoStim, a closely held biotechnology company for an undisclosed sum, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said in a statement today.

The acquisition adds several immunotherapy programs, including one that targets PD-1, a receptor that is the focus of drugs such as Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s nivolumab and Merck & Co.’s MK-3475. Immunotherapy, which works by eliciting a targeted immune response, may eventually be a $35 billion market, according to Andrew Baum, an analyst for Citigroup Inc. in London. Novartis is currently developing an immunotherapy treatment called CTL019.

“Therapy for many types of cancers are expected to increasingly rely upon rational combinations of agents,” Mark Fishman, who heads the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said in the statement. “Immunotherapy agents provide additional arrows in our quiver for such combinations.”

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at

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