2020-12-22| M&A

Novartis Looks to Diversify Neuroscience Pipeline with $770 Million Worth Acquisition

by Eduardo Longoria
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Cambridge, MA-based Cadent Therapeutics is a privately-held clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that develops therapies for the treatment of cognitive, mood, and movement disorders with a focus on small molecules targeting neuronal ion channels. On December 17th, Novartis announced reaching an agreement to acquire all of Cadent’s outstanding capital stocks for a total potential consideration of $770 million. This includes an upfront payment of $210 million with eligibility for up to $560 million in milestone payments.

The transaction has been approved by Cadent’s board of directors and stockholders, and it is expected to close during the first quarter of 2021 after customary closing conditions are met. This includes antitrust review pursuant to the Hart-Scott-Rodino premerger notification program.

Cadent Therapeutics was formed through the merger of Luc Therapeutics and Ataxion Therapeutics in 2017. The company combines target specificity, patient selection, drug design and optimization, and novel quantitative endpoints to create first-in-class molecules to treat cognitive and movement disorders. It is rapidly advancing its pipeline of positive allosteric modulators within indications, including schizophrenia and movement disorders. The company has an exclusive license and collaboration agreement with Novartis to develop a negative allosteric modulator, now in Phase 2, to treat treatment-resistant depression.


Benefits for Novartis

The acquisition will give Novartis’ full rights to Cadent’s neuroscience portfolio, including its NMDAr (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor) program that comprises of:

  1. CAD-9303, an NMDAr positive allosteric modulator (increase agonist affinity), and
  2. MIJ-821, an NMDAr negative allosteric modulator (decrease agonist affinity), which was licensed to Novartis in 2015.

MIJ-821 is a clinical-stage molecule intended to address treatment-resistant depression by decreasing the activity of NMDAr. This is in contrast to more traditional treatments for depression like Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

CAD-9303’s action as a positive allosteric inhibitor allows it to work on the “negative symptoms” of schizophrenia. While there are a variety of treatment options for “positive symptoms,” such as additive distortions of reality like hallucinations, there are far fewer for lack of feeling or ability to engage socially. With CAD-9303, Cadent originally intended to improve these symptoms in patients with schizophrenia.

Additionally, Novartis will gain full rights to CAD-1883, a clinical-stage SK (Calcium sensitive Potassium) channel positive allosteric modulator in development for inherited movement disorders like spinocerebellar ataxia.

“Since the company’s launch, the Cadent team has been focused on building a portfolio of next-generation small-molecule treatments for cognitive, mood, and movement disorders,” said Jodie Morrison, Chief Executive Officer of Cadent Therapeutics.

As a part of its corporate strategy, Novartis has been acquiring several smaller firms over the years. After completing the big acquisition of The Medicines Company early this year, it has acquired Amblyotech, Vedere Bio, and now Cadent. Besides, it struck a $75 Million collaboration with Sangamo Therapeutics for its zinc finger technology and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research.

By Eduardo Longoria

Related Article: Novartis Expands Foothold in Gene Therapy With New Acquisition



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