Basel-based pharmaceutical company Novartis announced on Sunday, Oct. 11, that it will invest another $15 million in Israeli stem cell therapy developer Gamida Cell.
The Swiss drug maker has invested an initial $35 million in Gamida in 2014 for a 15 percent stake. If Novartis chooses to exercise its buyout option set to expire in 2016, the deal with Gamida could reach up to $600 million.
Gamida Cell will use the $15 million investment to advance its clinical programs such as the development of an experimental treatment known as NiCord, designed to help patients identified with high hematological malignancies, or blood cancer risk. These malignancies include lymphoma and leukemia as well as sickle cell disease.
The Israeli firm plans to begin its Phase III clinical test of NiCord in 2016.
The NiCord therapy is developed using a single cord blood unit that is enriched and expanded with a combination of stem cells and immune modulatory cells through the use of Gamida’s own NAM technology.
Yael Margolin, president and CEO of Gamida Cell, said that the company is “very pleased” with Novartis’ continued support.
“This support is testament to the potential of Gamida Cell’s immune therapy platform and its potential to improve outcomes for patients with diseases like leukemia and lymphoma who need a bone marrow transplant but who do not have a matched related donor,” continued Margolin.
According to the recent deal, Novartis will provide an investment of $5 million in Gamida immediately for an additional stake worth 2.5 percent. The Swiss company will also invest another $10 million to fund NiCord’s late stage development, based on the close of an equity financing by 2017.
The terms of the agreement does not provide Novartis with rights or options to the technology or products produced by Gamida Cell.
Gamida Cell is considered to be one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cellular and immune treatments for cancer and orphan (rare) genetic illnesses. The drug maker’s therapies are being developed to cure a wide range of diseases such as malignancies, thalassemia, sickle cell disease, refractory autoimmune and genetic metabolic diseases.
The current shareholders of Gamida Cell include Auriga Ventures, Denali Ventures, Israel Healthcare Ventures, Clal Biotechnology Industries, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Elbit Imaging and Novartis.
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