Novartis has expanded its capabilities in the development of cell therapies after agreeing a research collaboration with Regenerex.
The deal allows the Swiss pharma giant access to Regenerex' Facilitating Cell Therapy (FCRx) platform, which has been investigated for use in people who undergone a kidney transplant to help stabilise immunological tolerance.
Cell therapies work by introducing new cells into a tissue in order to treat a disease, with FCRx a platform to facilitate the transplant of blood stem cells derived from a donor.
The aim of the platform is to make possible long-term survival of the transplant host without the need for lifelong immunosuppression so the body doesn't reject the new organ. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Dr Timothy Wright, global head development at Novartis, described how the deal expanded on the company's heritage in post-transplant medicine.
"Thirty years ago, Novartis developed ciclosporin, which changed transplantation treatment paradigms and enabled countless lives to be saved,” he said. “Now, this collaboration, along with our internal cell therapy assets, has the potential to transform medicine once again through innovation."
Novartis also has other cell therapy platforms, which include two being investigated in haematological malignancies.
HSC835 is being developed to enable stem cell transplant based on blood dervided from the umbilical cord in patients with limited treatment options. It is currently in a phase II trial in patients with high-risk haematological malignancies.
CTL019 is a chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy currently in phase II development in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
The Regenerex deal has potential beyond transplant, according to Novartis, including the development of treatments for serious genetic deficiencies, such as inherited metabolic storage disorders and people with defects of the haemoglobin molecule.