Novartis Buys CoStim to Strengthen Immunotherapy Capability

Novartis AG agreed to buy CoStim Pharmaceuticals Inc. to expand 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 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 now 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.”

Investors in CoStim, which was founded in 2012 with an initial investment from MPM Capital, include Atlas Venture and Partners Innovation Fund, MPM said in a statement today.

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