Novartis goes nuclear, again

Novartis’s licence to FAP inhibitors from an affiliate of the private company Sofie Biosciences marks yet another move by the Swiss group to strengthen its position in radiotherapeutics. It comes after the takeovers of Advanced Accelerated Applications and Endocyte, for $3.9bn and $2.1bn respectively, which brought assets targeting well-known oncology targets including PSMA, and using actinium-225 and lutetium-177 as radioactive payloads. The latest deal’s value is not disclosed, but the transaction mirrors a 2019 agreement between Clovis and 3B Pharmaceuticals, which focused on a separate FAP-targeting radionuclide, FAP-2286. Novartis says the FAP-directed assets it has licensed include FAPI-46 and FAPI-74, which Sofie at present conjugates with Gallium-68 for use as tracers; work will presumably now focus on linking these to different alpha or beta-emitting isotopes for therapeutic use. Radiotherapeutics is quietly becoming a hot area: earlier this month Fusion Pharmaceuticals licensed an NTSR1-targeting small molecule from Ipsen, aiming to combine this with actinium-225 and develop it as a radionuclide coded FPI-2059. And private start-ups with as-yet undisclosed pipelines are getting in on the act, including Rayzebio and Aktis Oncology, which recently raised $105m and $72m respectively from venture funds.

Novartis's radionuclide pipeline
Project Source Target Radioisotope Emits Status
Lutathera Advanced Accelerator Applications SSTR2 Lutetium-177 Beta Marketed
177Lu-PSMA-617 Endocyte (ex ABX Biomedizinische Forschungsreagenzien) PSMA Lutetium-177 Beta Phase 3
177Lu-PSMA-R2 Advanced Accelerator Applications PSMA Lutetium-177 Beta Phase 1/2
177Lu-NeoB Advanced Accelerator Applications GRPR Lutetium-177 Beta Phase 1/2
177Lu-NeoBOMB1 Advanced Accelerator Applications Bombesin Lutetium-177 Beta Phase 1 completed Apr 2019
225Ac-PSMA-617 Endocyte (ex ABX Biomedizinische Forschungsreagenzien) PSMA Actinium-225 Alpha Phase 1 starting Apr 2021
177Lu-FF-10158 Advanced Accelerator Applications Integrin alphavbeta3/5 Lutetium-177 Beta Preclinical
FAPI-46 Itheranostics/Sofie (ex Uni of Heidelberg) FAP ? ? Preclinical
FAPI-74 Itheranostics/Sofie (ex Uni of Heidelberg) FAP ? ? Preclinical
Source: company presentations.

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