Novartis options Quark program in $680M pact

Underscoring the rich potential of new siRNA therapeutics, Novartis has agreed to pay Quark Pharmaceuticals up to $680 million to nail the licensing rights to a new therapy for kidney-related diseases.

Quark will get $10 million upfront for an option on QPI-1002, which is currently in Phase II for kidney-related conditions. If Novartis decides to pull the trigger on the option, it will pay out up to $670 million more in fees and milestones. The drug is being developed for acute kidney disease and delayed graft function in kidney transplantation. The therapy targets the p53 gene, saving cells that could be killed by ischemia and other stress-related conditions.

The pact comes four years after Quark struck another major deal with Pfizer. Quark was founded back in 1994, according to a report in Globes, and may soon dust off plans for an IPO that would value the company at up to $260 million. While Quark had originally planned to go public on Nasdaq, sources tell Globes that this time the biotech would float on the Tel Aviv exchange.

Quark--which boasts of having the biggest siRNA pipeline in the world--has an international pedigree. The developer is based in Fremont, CA and has R&D facilities in Israel and Boulder, Colorado. Quark licensed structural technology from Silence Therapeutics and Alnylam.

- check out the Quark release for more info
- here's the report from Globes