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Novartis Buys Mariana Oncology for $1 Bn

Written by : Jayati Dubey

May 3, 2024

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Utilizing Mariana's RLT research expertise, Novartis seeks to expedite the development of advanced therapies and tackle key gaps in cancer treatment.

Novartis, a leading pharmaceutical company, has acquired Mariana Oncology, a preclinical-stage biotechnology firm based in Watertown, Massachusetts for $1 billion.

Mariana Oncology specializes in developing novel radioligand therapies (RLTs) to address cancers with significant unmet patient needs.

The acquisition marks a strategic move for Novartis, aiming to enhance its RLT pipeline and reinforce its research infrastructure and clinical supply capabilities. This aligns with Novartis' strategic priorities in oncology and its commitment to innovation in RLT platforms.

As part of the agreement, Novartis will provide an upfront payment of $1 billion and an additional $750 million upon achieving specified milestones. Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.

By leveraging Mariana's expertise in RLT research, Novartis aims to accelerate the development of next-generation therapies and address critical unmet needs in cancer care.

Mariana’s Offerings

Mariana Oncology brings a robust portfolio of RLT programs to Novartis, covering various stages from lead optimization to early development.

These programs target a range of solid tumor indications, including breast, prostate, and lung cancer. Notably, one of the lead candidates, MC-339, is an actinium-based RLT under investigation for small-cell lung cancer.

Sharing thoughts, Fiona Marshall, president, Biomedical Research at Novartis, said, "The acquisition of Mariana Oncology reflects our commitment to radioligand therapy as one of our company's key technology platforms and strengthens our leadership in this field. We are excited to work with the Mariana team to bring forward next-generation RLTs for patients living with cancer and together shape the future of RLT as a pillar for oncology treatment."

Precision Medicine Approach

RLTs, also known as radiopharmaceuticals, utilize a precision medicine approach by combining a tumor-targeting molecule with a therapeutic radioisotope.

These therapies bind to specific receptors on tumor cells, delivering radiation directly to the cancerous tissue while minimizing damage to surrounding cells.

This targeted approach holds promise for enhancing treatment efficacy and reducing side effects.

Talking about the acquisition, Shiva Malek, global head, Oncology for Biomedical Research at Novartis, said, “This acquisition brings to Novartis phenomenal talent and new capabilities in RLT research that complement our wide-ranging internal efforts to explore novel isotopes, combinations, disease areas, and more."

Advancing Cancer Care

Currently, Novartis has two approved Radioligand Therapies (RLTs) for specific patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and certain types of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

The company's early and late pipeline includes programs either in or entering the clinic, covering various studies and assets for prostate cancer, alongside other preclinical and discovery initiatives aimed at identifying innovative RLTs.

Novartis is actively exploring new isotopes, combinations with complementary mechanisms of action, and potential new disease areas for RLT.

In another acquisition development, CVS Health acquired Hella Health, a New York City-based startup specializing in Medicare Advantage (MA) brokerage services. Although the deal's financial terms were not publicly disclosed, Hella Health CEO and founder Rafal Walkiewicz confirmed the acquisition through a LinkedIn post.

Hella Health, now affiliated with CVS Health, operates as part of the CVS Health family of companies. The company is renowned for its use of technology to assist seniors in finding and enrolling in the most suitable Medicare Advantage plans tailored to their specific needs and preferences.


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