Novartis pens $425M biobucks deal with German biotech, scooping up more radiopharmaceutical tech

Novartis is doling out $40 million cash for exclusive licensing rights to 3B Pharmaceuticals’ cancer-targeting tech, wrapping up some loose ends for a radiotherapy picked up from Clovis Oncology at the end of last year.

Novartis is giving 3BP the chance to make up to $425 million in biobucks in return for global rights to develop and commercialize therapeutic and imaging applications stemming from 3BP’s technology. The German biotech—which centers around targeted molecular radiopharmaceuticals and diagnostics in the oncology space—will keep certain rights to uses its imaging tech that targets fibroblast activation protein (FAP) for diagnostic purposes. FAP is a molecule that is expressed in many epithelial cancers, including most tumors of the breast and lung.

The freshly inked deal includes FAP-2286, an asset that Clovis Oncology helped through early discovery and into phase 1 clinical development for patients with advanced solid tumors. In 2019, 3BP and Clovis penned a licensing deal for $12 million upfront that focused on developing a peptide-targeted radiotherapy and imaging agent targeting FAP. The new Novartis agreement scoops up 3BP's entire FAP-targeting peptide tech.

Novartis bought Clovis' rights to FAP-2286 in December as the company filed for bankruptcy, paying $50 million upfront with the possibility of an additional $333.75 million if the drug hits certain milestones. At the time, 3B consented to the sale (PDF) and said a deal with Novartis for the remaining rights was forthcoming pending the approval of the bankruptcy court.

FAP-2286 is the first peptide-targeted radioligand therapy (PTRT) targeting FAP to enter clinical development as both a PTRT and imaging agent.

"We are grateful to our partner Clovis Oncology for the excellent translation and early clinical development of FAP-2286,” said Christiane Smerling, Ph.D., 3BP’s head of nuclear medicine and imaging, said in an April 24 release. “We believe the new agreement with Novartis is an ideal partnership for the further clinical development of FAP-2286 for the benefit of patients with many different types of cancer.”

This is the second radiopharmaceuticals deal from Novartis in the last month after a pact signed with Bicycle Therapeutics at the end of March. The agreement could make Bicycle up to $1.7 billion and centers around developing radio-conjugates for multiple undisclosed oncology targets.

Novartis has made radiopharmaceuticals a key part of its cancer strategy and already touts approved drugs Lutathera for certain gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and Pluvicto for patients with prostate cancer.