Novartis on Monday announced it has acquired the full rights to several of IFM Tre’s research assets, which consists of one clinical and two pre-clinical programs, for a minimum of $310 million, according to a press release.
The acquisition also includes an agreement that IFM Therapeutics will be eligible to receive up to $1.265 billion in milestone payments, amounting to a possible $1.575 billion in total compensation.
IFM Tre’s research portfolio consists of early-stage research assessing the safety and efficacy of anti-inflammatory medicines targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome – an intracellular innate immune signaling receptor that allows immune cells to detect the presence of pro-inflammatory foreign or endogenous molecules that signal infection, tissue damage or metabolic derangements.
Those conditions, according to the release, lead to the development of a multi-protein complex called an inflammasome, which then initiates an immune response. Abnormal or chronic activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome is known to cause negative downstream effects and the onset and progression of numerous diseases.
Under the agreement, Novartis acquires the rights to IFM-2427, a first-in-class, clinical stage systemic antagonist for the treatment of gout, atherosclerosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Additionally, the acquisition includes a pre-clinical stage gut-directed molecule for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and a pre-clinical stage central nervous system (CNS)-penetrant molecule.
“IFM Tre’s compounds have demonstrated that they can fine-tune the immune system, offering a potentially potent approach for treating a large variety of diseases associated with inflammation,” Jay Bradner, President of Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said in the release. “We look forward to applying our deep expertise in this field to advancing these medicines through the clinic and to patients who need them.”
The acquisition is expected to close sometime in the second quarter, according to the release.
“Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in the development of next-generation therapies for serious inflammatory conditions,” Gary D. Glick, PhD, CEO and Co-Founder of IFM Therapeutics, said in the release. “Based on substantial pre-clinical and translational data, we believe NLRP3 inhibition represents a novel approach to preventing the overactive inflammation that drives the onset and progression of numerous metabolic, fibrotic, autoimmune and neurological diseases. With Novartis we have identified a partner that shares our conviction in the potential of this approach, and who has deep expertise bringing inflammatory and autoimmune disease therapeutics to market.”