Novartis pays $150M for Arvinas' phase 3-ready prostate cancer protein degrader

Novartis is adding another weapon to its arsenal of oncology therapies, paying Arvinas $150 million upfront for rights to a phase 3-ready protein degrader that could treat a wide range of prostate cancer patients. 

The deal, which is worth up to $1.01 billion in milestones, will give Novartis global rights to ARV-766, a molecule designed to degrade wild-type and mutant androgen receptor (AR). Arvinas identified mutant degradation as a way to counter the drug resistance that can arise in patients taking AR inhibitors such as Astellas and Pfizer’s Xtandi and Johnson & Johnson’s Zytiga, but it now also sees earlier-line opportunities.

Novartis has signed up to explore the frontiers of ARV-766’s potential. The drugmaker, which is working to move its existing prostate cancer radiotherapy Pluvicto into earlier lines of therapy, has the R&D scale to tackle the opportunities that Arvinas now believes are open to ARV-766.

Arvinas indicated its interest in partnering the asset last year. Early-phase data convinced the biotech the addressable population for ARV-766 could be up to 120,000 patients with metastatic castration-sensitive and castration-resistant prostate cancer (CSPC/CRPC). 

As Arvinas CEO John Houston, Ph.D., told investors on a call to discuss ARV-766 in October, CSPC is “a much bigger enterprise in terms of trial size than CRPC and ... that scenario clearly would lend itself to having a partner.” Houston added that “having a significant strategic partner for ‘766 as it moves to CSPC would be, I think, a relatively smart thing to do.”

The deal also includes the sale of Arvinas’ preclinical AR-V7 program. AR-V7 is an androgen receptor splice variant that some patients acquire. Preclinically, Arvinas’ first-generation AR asset bavdegalutamide did not degrade AR-V7.