Novartis spurs a second celebration for IFM’s backers

IFM Therapeutics has done it again. Today’s tie-up with Novartis is the group’s second $300m-plus deal with big pharma in as many years – and leaves the possibility open that IFM could repeat the trick a third time. Novartis has bought IFM’s subsidiary, IFM Tre, for $310m up front, gaining a portfolio of NLPR3 antagonists being developed for chronic inflammatory disorders including Nash. The deal represents a big bet for such early-stage projects: the most advanced compound, IFM-2427, in in phase I. Novartis is not the only big group targeting the so-called inflammasome – Roche acquired the NLPR3 inhibitor developer Jecure Therapeutics last year. Today’s transaction comes nearly two years after Bristol-Myers Squibb bought what was then IFM Therapeutics for $300m up front to get hold of preclinical cancer projects; at the time, the remainder of IFM was spun out into a new company. When Bristol struck IFM had raised just $27m in venture financing; it has brought in another $31m since. The group’s venture backers, Atlas Ventures and Abingworth, will be celebrating lightning striking twice, but might hope it could happen once more. IFM still has various candidates in development, some in another handily packaged subsidiary, IFM Due. 

IFM Therapeutics-originated projects
Name/mechanism Indication(s) Status Current owner
NLRP3 agonist Cancer Phase I Bristol-Myers Squibb
Sting agonist Cancer Preclinical Bristol-Myers Squibb
IFM-2427 (NLRP3 antagonist) Atherosclerosis, Nash Phase I Novartis
Gut-targeted NLRP3 antagonist Inflammatory bowel disease Preclinical Novartis
CNS-Penetrant NLRP3 antagonist Neurodegenerative diseases Preclinical Novartis
Sting antagonist Autoinflammatory diseases Preclinical IFM
cGAS inhibitor Autoinflammatory diseases Discovery IFM
NLRP1 antagonist Autoinflammatory diseases Discovery IFM
AIM2 agonist Cancer Discovery IFM
Source: Company website.

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