Novartis buys neurology biotech Cadent for up to $770m

Novartis is to buy neuroscience drugs firm Cadent Therapeutics in a deal worth up to $770 million.

The big Swiss pharma already has a presence in neurology with its multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya (fingolimod) and the more recently approved Aimovig (erenumab).

With the acquisition of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Cadent, Novartis gains rights to a portfolio of neurology drugs.

This includes CAD-9303, a NMDAr positive allosteric modulator that could be used to treat schizophrenia, and MIJ-821, a NMDAr negative allosteric modulator for depression that was licensed to Novartis in 2015.

MIJ-821 is already in phase 2 development for treatment-resistant depression in a trial overseen by Novartis and the acquisition includes a buyout of milestones payments and royalties for the drug.

Gopi Shanker, the interim co-head of neuroscience at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), added: “There is good evidence, both from human genetics as well as clinical studies, that NMDA receptors, which regulate learning, memory and plasticity in the brain function sub-optimally in schizophrenia.

“By modulating the activity of these receptors, we think CAD-9303 could potentially treat negative and cognitive symptoms and help address one of the key gaps in schizophrenia care.”

Additionally, Novartis will gain full rights to CAD-1883, a clinical stage SK channel positive allosteric modulator in development for movement disorders.

Cadent, which launched in 2017 through the merger of Luc Therapeutics and Ataxion Therapeutics, will receive $210 million up front, and up to $560 million in milestone payments.

No other financial details were disclosed.

Cadent said that its pipeline of drugs could also be used to treat indications such as movement disorders.

The transaction has been approved by the board of directors and stockholders of Cadent Therapeutics. Cadent and Novartis expect the transaction will close during the first quarter of 2021.

Closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust review under us antitrust laws.

Investors in Cadent include Atlas Venture, Cowen Healthcare Investments, Qiming Venture Partners, Access Industries, Clal Biotechnology Industries, Novartis Corporate and Slater Technology Fund.


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