Novartis acquires Boston immunotherapy startup

Novartis acquires Boston immunotherapy startup

By Hannah Green

Novartis is once again shelling out millions to buy a subsidiary of Boston-based IFM Therapeutics.

Novartis (NYSE: NVS) said on Wednesday it is acquiring all of the outstanding capital stock of IFM Due, a subsidiary company of IFM. Novartis is paying IFM $90 million upfront for this acquisition, and IFM will also be eligible for up to $745 million in milestone payments.

This isn’t the first time Novartis has bought an IFM subsidiary. Back in 2019, Novartis signed a deal to purchase IFM Tre for $310 million, with another $1.27 billion available in milestone payments.

The Swiss drug giant began working with IFM Due shortly after it launched in February 2019. Novartis and IFM Due signed a collaboration and exclusive option agreement in September 2019 to develop immunotherapies that inhibit the cGAS/STING pathway, which they hope can treat a range of serious inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Over the last few years, Novartis has fully financed IFM Due’s research and development costs for this program in exchange for the option to acquire the IFM Due subsidiary. 

“The acquisition of IFM Due represents the culmination of a highly productive, four-year preclinical collaboration between Novartis and IFM to develop novel small-molecule STING inhibitors with the potential to treat a spectrum of inflammatory diseases,” Richard Siegel, global head of immunology research at Novartis, said in the announcement. 

IFM Therapeutics was founded in 2015 by Atlas Venture, Gary Glick and an international group of scientists and physicians. The Boston company is funded by Atlas Venture, Abingworth and Novartis.

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