Novartis pushes deeper into nuclear medicine with US$2.1 billion deal

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan

Endocyte's radioligand portfolio, now in mid-stage trials for cancer treatment, will supplement Novartis' oncology pipeline of 33 candidates. The transaction was unanimously approved by the board of directors of Endocyte.

Novartis shares are higher Thursday, as the Swiss drug maker has shared its plans to purchase U.S. cancer drug specialist, Endocyte, for $24 per share. Endocyte stock, which has rallied more than 445% since the beginning of the year, was up $7.89, or 50.71% to $23.45.

The companies expect the takeover to close in the first half of next year, pending approval by regulators and Endocyte's shareholders, who would receive $24 per share-which is 54% more than Endocyte's closing price on Wednesday.

Novartis said that, after completing the deal, it will harness its research and expertise to investigate the development of Endocyte's 177Lu-PSMA-617, a radioligand therapy for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Liz Barrett, chief executive officer of Novartis Oncology, commented, "Today's announcement about the proposed acquisition of Endocyte builds on our growing capability in radiopharmaceuticals, which is expected to be an increasingly important treatment option for patients and a key growth driver for our business".

Novartis shares were up about 1.1 percent following its Q3 earnings results. It operates through the following segments: Innovative Medicines, Alcon, Sandoz, and Corporate.

The radioligand therapy, or RLT, uses a ligand, or small molecule that is created to bind to a protein expressed on the surfaces of most prostate cancer cells - but not normal cells - called prostate-specific membrane antigen, according to Endocyte's website. The ligand in the drug is chemically attached to a radioactive atom, lutetium-177, which then releases a particle to deliver radiation directly to the cell and kill it.

West Lafayette-based Endocyte Inc.

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