SWITZERLAND -Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical giant, has announced definitive plans to acquire Mariana Oncology, a biotechnology company based in Watertown, Massachusetts.

The acquisition, valued at US$ 1.75 billion, includes an upfront payment of US$1 billion, with an additional US$ 750 million contingent upon the achievement of predetermined milestones.

Mariana specializes in the development of cutting-edge radioligand therapies (RLTs) for cancers with significant unmet medical needs. 

Its focus on RLTs, which combine a tumor-targeting molecule with a therapeutic radioisotope, aligns with Novartis’s vision to advance precision medicine in oncology. 

Novartis aims to leverage Mariana’s portfolio of RLT programs, covering lead optimization to early development stages, across various solid tumor indications such as breast, prostate, and lung cancer. 

Notably, the acquisition encompasses Mariana’s flagship development candidate, MC-339, an actinium-based RLT undergoing evaluation for small-cell lung cancer treatment.

Fiona Marshall, President of Biomedical Research at Novartis, emphasized the strategic significance of this acquisition, stating,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.”

Marshall expressed enthusiasm about collaborating with Mariana’s talented team to advance next-generation RLTs, positioning Novartis at the forefront of oncology treatment innovation.

RLTs represent a promising avenue in precision medicine, delivering radiation directly to tumor cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissue. 

Shiva Malek, Global Head of Oncology for Biomedical Research at Novartis, highlighted the transformative potential of RLTs, stating, As pioneers in radioligand therapies, we are dedicated to building on our scientific leadership and expanding the breadth of these potentially transformative treatments to a broader range of cancer types.” Malek underscored the acquisition’s role in enhancing Novartis’s RLT research capabilities, complementing its existing efforts to explore novel isotopes, combinations, and disease areas.

Currently, Novartis boasts two approved RLTs for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and certain types of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. 

The company’s robust pipeline includes several programs in various stages of development, with a focus on prostate cancer and other promising areas. 

The acquisition of Mariana Oncology further strengthens Novartis’s position as a leader in oncology research and underscores its commitment to advancing novel therapies for cancer patients worldwide.

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