Novartis to acquire IFM Due for $835 million

Novartis has exercised its option to acquire all of the outstanding capital stock of IFM Due, a subsidiary company of IFM Therapeutics (IFM).

Launched in February 2019, with a focus on developing small molecules that inhibit the cGAS-STING pathway, the company entered into an option and collaboration agreement with Novartis in September, 2019 whereby Novartis made fixed payments sufficient to fully finance IFM Due’s research and development costs for the cGAS-STING program in exchange for the option to acquire the IFM Due subsidiary.

Under the terms of the option exercise, IFM received $90 million in upfront payment and will be eligible for up to $745 million in milestone payments, adding up to $835 million in total consideration.

The acquisition provides Novartis with full rights to IFM Due’s portfolio of STING antagonists, which have the potential to treat an array of serious inflammation-driven diseases characterized by excessive interferon and other pro-inflammatory cytokine signaling.

“The acquisition of IFM Due represents the culmination of a highly productive, four-year preclinical collaboration between Novartis and IFM to develop novel small-molecule STING inhibitors with the potential to treat a spectrum of inflammatory diseases,” said Richard Siegel, global head of immunology research at Novartis.

“We are excited to advance IFM Due’s STING program and leverage our deep expertise in inflammation science to bring forward transformative medicines that address major unmet patient needs.”

“We have been steadfast in our belief that selectively targeting STING to block the cGAS-STING pathway has the potential to deliver a powerful therapeutic option for patients with serious chronic illnesses,” said H. Martin Seidel, chief executive officer of IFM.

“Novartis has been an outstanding collaborator, and the program couldn’t be in better hands. Today, as IFM Therapeutics marks the third major acquisition by a global pharmaceutical company, we cannot be more proud of our team’s accomplishments and look forward to seeing our vision of precisely targeting the innate immune system to address a variety of serious inflammation-driven diseases become a reality for patients in need.”

The cGAS-STING (cyclic GMP-AMP Synthase, Stimulator of Interferon Genes) pathway functions within the innate immune system to sense cytosolic DNA, which is a signal of cellular danger, and then triggers a STING-dependent inflammatory response. Inappropriate pathway activation, which leads to excessive interferon/cytokine signaling, can result from mutations that activate the pathway or other drivers of aberrant pathway activation, such as mitochondrial dysfunction. Such pathway dysregulation is believed to underlie a variety of serious inflammation-driven diseases.

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