Deals

Novartis laterals two PhII anti-aging drugs to a PureTech startup, grabbing an equity stake

Jay Bradner, Novartis

Pharma giant Novartis is spinning out a pair of Phase IIb-ready drugs now bound for advanced trials on repairing the deteriorating impact of aging on the human immune system.

Boston-based PureTech Health is on the receiving end of the deal, setting up a subsidiary called resTORbio which it will now fund, in tranches, with $15 million. And it can earn a growing stake in the operation, rising to 58% on the allocation of the full $15 million, with an option to increase that to 67% if it adds $10 million more.

Novartis retains an equity stake as well as unspecified milestones and royalties.

There’s nothing new about a major pharma operation like Novartis spinning out assets from a large pipeline. Vivek Ramaswamy’s Roivant has established companies based on negotiating the receiving end of that arrangement. And Novartis itself has a few other recent deals to underscore the trend.

What’s interesting this year is that the whole field of divesting assets is growing hotter as companies look to reprioritize pipelines in the wake of increasing resistance by payers, as Ernst & Young pointed out recently.

In this case PureTech is grabbing two drugs that have completed studies for immunosenescence. The treatment inhibits the mTORC1 pathway, which has been long studied for its ability — in animals — to revitalize T cell function and amp up an aging immune system.

“mTORC1 inhibitors could lead us to a new paradigm for treating several aging-related conditions,” said Chen Schor, a PureTech senior executive and the leader of the resTORbio program.

Aging has been a growing focus among a handful of biotechs, though there are still plenty of pesky details about development and endpoints that still need to be worked out with the FDA. Still, this is an advanced effort, especially compared to cell senescence programs at startups like Unity.

Don’t be surprised if you see some more of these kinds of outsourcing deals from Novartis.

Jay Bradner, who runs the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), said:

We regard the further development of these compounds by PureTech Health for the potential treatment of conditions such as immunosenescence, as a prime example of our continued commitment to work more openly with innovators beyond our walls to advance projects that have the potential to help patients lead healthier lives.


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