Novartis has entered into an agreement and plan of merger with Endocyte, a U.S.-based biopharmaceutical company focused on developing targeted therapeutics for cancer treatment. Under the terms of the agreement, Novartis will acquire all outstanding shares of Endocyte common stock for $24 per share, totaling around $2.1 billion.
If completed, Novartis will gain rights to Endocyte’s 177Lu-PSMA-617, an investigational radioligand therapy (RLT) for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). 177Lu-PSMA-617, which targets PSMA, has shown promising Phase II data. In the study, 50 patients with PSMA-positive mCRPC treated with 177Lu-PSMA-617 showed a median prostate specific antigen (PSA) progression free survival (PFS) of 7.6 months (p<0.0001). Median overall survival for the first cohort of 30 patients enrolled was 13.5 months (p=0.0201).1
Liz Barrett, CEO, Novartis Oncology, said, “Today’s announcement builds on our growing capability in radiopharmaceuticals, which is expected to be an increasingly important treatment option for patients and a key growth driver for our business.”
The acquisition of Endocyte builds on Novartis’ January 2018 $3.9-billion purchase of Advanced Accelerator Applications, through which the company gained Lutathera, a peptide receptor radionuclide therapy that has gained European and the U.S. approval for the treatment of somatostatin-receptor positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Together, these acquisitions demonstrate Novartis’ interest in expanding its Radioligand therapy portfolio.
 Hofman, M. [177Lu]-PSMA-617 radionuclide treatment in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (LuPSMA trial): a single-centre, single-arm, phase 2 study. The Lancet Oncology. 2018 Jun;19(6):825-833