The biotech companies Novartis and Opexa Therapeutics have signed an agreement in which Novartis will pay $4 million for Opexa’s novel adult stem cell technology.
The deal includes $3 million paid up-front, with an additional $1 million in fees that will be distributed over 6 months. Additional future milestone payments are estimated to exceed $50 million, not including royalties.
Novartis will be responsible for the funding of all R&D as well as commercial activities of Opexa’s technology, which enables the production of monocyte-derived stem cells (MDSCs) from blood. Currently the technology is in preclinical development where it was been shown to generate MDSCs from peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
As described on their website, "Opexa is focused on the development of patient-specific cellular therapies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis and diabetes. The company’s lead product is Tovaxin, a T-cell MS vaccine that is specifically tailored to each patient’s disease profile. In October 2008 the company reported positive top-line results from a Phase IIb study in early, relapsing MS patients."
Formed in 1996 through the merger of the two companies Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz, Novartis is one of the world’s largest multinational corporations and a leader in healthcare, offering products and services in pharmaceuticals, vaccines and diagnostics. In 2008, Novartis invested $7.2 billion in its R&D, and that same year the company was ranked number 2 in Fortune magazine’s "World’s Most Admired Companies" survey. Novartis currently employs approximately 100,000 people in 140 countries worldwide.