NovartisCancer research continues to break new ground and with that you can easily expect to find many new partnerships. As specialty research firms make new strides, for example, they may need more backing from major pharmaceutical companies to help get products to market.
Accordingly, Novartis AG has just announced a new $170 million partnership with the US-based Surface Oncology to help improve diversification of the drug company’s immune-therapy cancer treatment portfolio.

Out of this deal, then, Novartis now gets access to four pre-clinical programs designed to aid in the prevention of tumors evading immune system activity.

This includes tumors which target regulatory T-cell populations; populations which can migrate between tumors and further impede the body’s natural ability to fight cancer.

This sort of deal is not necessarily new to Novartis, as they have previously struck deals with smaller drug developers like Xoma and Palobiofarma in addition to acquiring Admune Therapeutics, last year.

Indeed, Novartis president of research, Mark Fishman, comments, on the Surface deal, “This alliance is another building block in our strategy to develop a portfolio of programs that we believe will lead the next wave of immuno-oncology medicines.”

These are important steps in a shifting pharmaceuticals and medical industry and in a time when cancer research continues to shift our mentality about the disease. Thus, Novartis has found it necessary to make these moves, in order to stay in direct competition with the likes of Roche, Bristol Myers, and Merck.
In addition to the $170 million cash payment, Surface Oncology will also be eligible for equity in the stake as well as near-term milestone payments; altogether an enticing deal during a crucial time in cancer treatment development. But if that were not enough, Surface could also be eligible for astonishing double-digit royalties on all product sales and also the option to retain both US development and commercialization rights for no less than half of Novartis’ future projects.

Indeed, Surface Oncology CEO Detlev Biniszkiewicz comments, “The total deal potential is consistent with other major IO deals in the space such as the recent Symphogen deal, among others.” In an email to FierceBiotech, he continues, “We will receive major clinical and commercial milestones for all four programs as well as double digit royalties. The total deal potential reflects the value of Surface’s novel portfolio of projects that target regulatory T cell an macrophage populations, inhibitory cytokines, an immunosuppressive metabolites.”