Hogan Lovells Advises University of Pennsylvania on Anticancer Alliance with Novartis

BALTIMORE, 6 August 2012 – Hogan Lovells announced that it has advised the University of Pennsylvania on a research and licensing agreement with Novartis to develop novel T-cell immunotherapies to fight cancer.

The agreement follows the 2011 publication by Penn researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine of breakthrough results for a new approach to battling cancer.  The novel therapy uses chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modified T-cells to train a patient’s immune system to destroy cancer cells.  T-cells are drawn from a patient’s blood, genetically modified to target cancer cells using a disabled form of the HIV-1 virus, and then reintroduced into the patient.  Initial results for leukemia have been very positive and trials are also underway for other cancers.

Under the terms of the agreement, Penn granted Novartis an exclusive worldwide license to existing CAR therapies and Novartis committed to fund a collaborative research program to develop new CAR-based therapies.  The financial details of the transaction are confidential, but include a commitment from Novartis to fund $20 million to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility on Penn’s campus.  Penn will also receive milestone payments and royalties for products developed through the collaboration.

The Penn-Novartis collaboration represents an emerging trend of large pharmaceutical companies partnering directly with universities, rather than with small or mid-sized biotechnology companies, and will be one of the largest academic-industry alliances of its kind.

Asher Rubin (partner, Baltimore) and Adam Bellack (partner, Washington) led the transaction on behalf of Hogan Lovells with assistance from Cullen Taylor (partner, Northern Virginia), Rob Church (partner, Los Angeles) and Adriana Tibbitts (associate, Baltimore).

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