A New Industry-Academic Model: Novartis And Penn Make A Splash In Cancer Immunotherapy
Novartis’ deal with the University of Pennsylvania around cancer immunotherapies based on chimeric antigen receptor technologies developed in the lab of Penn’s Carl June comes at an opportune time. The Big Pharma is fighting to preserve its number two ranking in oncology and Penn’s high-profile, albeit much smaller, alliance with AstraZeneca in neurodegenerative disease is winding down.
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Tmunity launched in early 2016 with $10m in seed funding for novel T-cell therapies, two of which are now in the clinic. The company reunites former Novartis cell therapy head Oz Azam and CAR-T researchers from the University of Pennsylvania.
FDA's Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee recommends 10-0 the agency approve Novartis' tisagenlecleucel (CTL019) for pediatric leukemia in a panel review that was hailed by some in the industry as historic.
CEO Joe Jimenez told investors the firm is encouraged about the commercial prospects for CAR-T therapy. Lead drug CTL019 made Novartis' list of blockbusters in development after having been left off last year.