Novartis takes preclinical cancer program off MorphoSys' hands for $23M cash

MorphoSys is trimming its pipeline a bit, pulling in $23 million cash from Novartis in exchange for worldwide licensing rights to its preclinical cancer program. 

MorphoSys subsidiary Constellation Pharmaceuticals signed the deal with the Big Pharma to research, develop and commercialize its preclinical inhibitors of a novel cancer target, according to a Tuesday release. The program was added to MorphoSys’ early-stage pipeline after the $1.7 billion acquisition of the epigenetics biotech last year.

Under the agreement terms, Novartis will head up all activities for the program. In addition to the $23 million upfront payment, MorphoSys will be eligible to receive certain milestone payments and royalties. 

The German biotech pivoted its pipeline earlier this year, axing some of its autoimmune-focused programs and selling off multiple assets to new biotech HIBio so it could zoom in on oncology. The company also cut down its U.S.-based early research work, shifting lab operations back to its home base in Planegg, Germany, though drug development work will still be conducted in the U.S.

“At MorphoSys, we will continue to focus our resources on driving our late- and mid-stage oncology pipeline forward, which has the potential to enhance the standard and quality of care in difficult-to-treat and debilitating types of blood cancers,” Jean-Paul Kress, M.D., CEO of MorphoSys, said in the Dec. 6 release.