Novartis bets on actinium RLT with $1B Mariana Oncology acquisition

Novartis has entered into an agreement to acquire Mariana Oncology, a preclinical-stage biotechnology company that develops novel radioligand therapies (RLTs) for cancer.

Watertown, MA-based Mariana Oncology's portfolio crosses a range of solid tumor indications such as breast, prostate, and lung cancer and includes development candidate MC-339, an actinium-based RLT being investigated in small cell lung cancer, according to Novartis. In September 2023, Mariana announced $175 million in Series B financing from Atlas Venture, Access Biotechnology, RA Capital Management, Nextech Invest, Surveyor Capital, and Eli Lilly and Company. At the time, the company anticipated its MC-339 would enter the clinic this year.

Novartis noted its success with approved RLTs for certain patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and for certain types of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

Under the terms of the agreement, Novartis will make an upfront payment of $1 billion and an additional $750 million in payments upon completion of prespecified milestones.

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