Novartis inks a string of deals to widen its immuno-oncology arsenal

Novartis ($NVS), developing cancer treatments that tap the power of the immune system, signed a pair of agreements to pad its pipeline of new oncology therapies, planning to test them alone and in tandem with in-house assets.

The Swiss drugmaker acquired a Massachusetts firm called Admune Therapeutics for undisclosed sum, getting its hands on an early-stage treatment that boosts the cytokine interleukin-15, or IL-15, to stimulate an immune attack on cancer. In a separate agreement, Novartis is paying $15 million up front to Spain’s Palobiofarma for the global rights to a Phase I asset that blocks the body’s adenosine receptors to unblind immune cells to cancerous growths.

The agreements come a few weeks after Novartis agreed to a deal with Xoma ($XOMA) worth up to $517 million, licensing an antibody for TGF-beta that similarly aims to take the brakes off of the immune system.

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