- Bayer on Thursday said it will acquire two small biotech companies in a deal that adds an experimental prostate cancer medicine to the German drugmaker's pipeline.
- Noria Therapeutics and its subsidiary PSMA Therapeutics, the targets of Bayer's interest, were built around technology licensed from Weill Cornell Medicine and Johns Hopkins University. John Babich, a professor at Weill Cornell, founded Noria.
- The deal gives Bayer exclusive rights to a preclinical radiopharmaceutical targeted at PSMA, a protein commonly found on prostate cancer cells. Financial details were not disclosed.
Bayer is one of several large pharmaceutical companies interested in radiopharmaceuticals, drugs that combine a radioactive particle with a targeting molecule designed to seek out tumors.
The drugmaker has experience with an earlier generation of radioactive cancer treatment — Xofigo, a prostate cancer drug sold by Bayer, consists of radium-223 — and is testing a PSMA-targeted radiopharmaceutical that uses another type of isotope called thorium-227.
Noria and PSMA's treatment, by comparison, pairs a small molecule directed to PSMA with actinium-225.
The radiation-emitting isotopes are meant to destroy tumors, while the targeting molecules are used to selectively deliver the medicine to cancerous cells rather than healthy ones.
Along with Bayer, companies like Novartis and AstraZeneca are also exploring the field. Novartis, in particular, has been active, acquiring the biotech companies Endocyte and Advanced Accelerator Applications and making radiopharmaceuticals a research focus.
Beyond those larger acquisitions, there's been a flurry of smaller dealmaking, too. A recent report from Evaluate Vantage tracked 15 licensing or acquisition deals involving radiopharmaceuticals since 2016, excluding Novartis' buys of Endocyte and AAA.
In March, for example, North Billerica, Massachusetts-based Lantheus Holdings acquired exclusive rights from Noria to a PET imaging agent for use in cancer.
Novartis will present data from a large Phase 3 study of a prostate cancer radiopharmaceutical at the American Society of Clinical Oncology virtual meeting over the weekend. An abstract of results will be made public Thursday afternoon.