BASEL: Swiss drug manufacturer Novartis has entered into a $1 billion deal to acquire all remaining rights to multiple sclerosis drug Ofatumumab from GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) in a $1 billion deal.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain and spinal cord through inflammation and tissue loss.
Ofatumumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody which targets CD20, a transmembrane protein present on virtually all B cells, is being developed for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) and other autoimmune indications, said Novartis in a statement Friday.
Novartis had previously acquired the rights to Ofatumumab for oncology indications and it is marketed under the brand name Arzerra.
RRMS is thought to be associated with activation of B cells, a type of white blood cell in the immune system. Ofatumumab works by binding to the CD20 molecule on the surface of B cells and depleting them in lymphatic tissues.
Positive phase IIa results for subcutaneous Ofatumumab has demonstrated significant reduction of up to 90% in the cumulative number of new brain lesions in patients with MS between weeks 4-12 in the study, according to Novartis.
No unexpected safety findings were reported in the study. Since this was a dose finding trial, Ofatumumab is ready to begin phase III pivotal studies, the Swiss company stated.
“Novartis is pleased to further reinforce our commitment to neuroscience and to add an exciting new treatment to our strong MS portfolio,” said David Epstein, Head of Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
“Our vision for patients with MS is to develop treatments that improve on current standards of care, meeting patients’ needs at every stage of their disease with innovative and targeted drugs.”
More than 2.3 million people worldwide are affected by MS, a disease that most often begins in early adulthood. The typical evolution of MS results in progressive loss of both physical and cognitive (e.g. memory) functions.