Novartis buys sickle cell biotech Selexys

Novartis is to acquire US biotech Selexys and its sickle cell disease drug as part of deal worth up to $665 million.

The Swiss pharma company bought an option to acquire Selexys and its drug SelG1 in 2012, as part of a deal including upfront, acquisition and milestone payments.

Novartis said it decided to buy Selexys on the basis of results from the phase 2 SUSTAIN study of SelG1, an anti-P-selectin antibody, in reduction of pain caused by blocked blood vessels.

Novartis says the acquisition broadens its haematology pipeline, which includes blood cancer treatments such as CTL019, a CAR-T therapy for childhood leukaemia.

Bruno Strigini, CEO of Novartis Oncology, said: “Sickle cell disease affects millions of people around the world and there are limited therapies available for treatment of vaso-occlusive pain crises, a very common complication of the disease.”

“With this acquisition, Novartis is able to leverage its leadership in haematology research to advance development of a potential new treatment option for patients living with this debilitating condition.”

Results from SUSTAIN will be presented at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in San Diego, next month.

Novartis is reportedly considering selling its eyecare division, Alcon, which is underperforming.

The acquisition of Selexys comes as Novartis is looking for new revenue streams following generic competition to its blood cancer drug, Gleevec (imatinib).

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