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Novartis dumps a long-faded $500M pact with Cytos

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Close to 6 years after promising up to $500 million to gain rights to Zurich-based Cytos Biotechnology's ($CYTN) smoking-cessation vaccine, Novartis ($NVS) has handed back the rights to the treatment and written off its investment.

The news can't be a surprise to anyone involved. NIC002 failed a Phase II study way back in 2009. Novartis discontinued development and the vaccine has been in limbo ever since. Today's release looks like a quick burial for a program that has been collecting dust on Novartis's R&D shelf.

Cytos, though, has a second collaboration under way with Novartis on CAD106 for Alzheimer's, which will continue. In early-stage studies CAD106 spurred development of antibodies against beta amyloid, the toxic plaque that builds up in the brain of Alzheimer's patients. So far, drugs targeting beta amyloid in mild to moderate cases have not delivered promising pivotal data, though there are signs that the approach could work in early stages of the disease.

Cytos's primary focus is on CYT003, a treatment for severe allergic asthma now in a Phase IIb study that is slated to deliver topline data in 2014. 

- here's the press release (pdf)

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