Scoop: Novartis disbands its pioneering cell and gene therapy unit – ENDPOINTS NEWS

Scoop: Novartis disbands its pioneering cell and gene therapy unit

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Novartis is dissolving its high-profile cell and gene therapy unit operating under the guiding forearm of Usman “Oz” Azam, Endpoints has learned.

Azam has issued a note to the four hundred staffers in the group, which was obtained by Endpoints, that says:

“The risk of embarking on a fresh escapade in uncharted territory is that things don’t always work out as envisioned. Today, I have the unfortunate task of announcing that we are dissolving the Cell and Gene Therapies Unit.”

Novartis confirmed that the 400-member group is being disbanded, with most being “redeployed” to fresh positions while one hundred twenty could be left without a job.

That budge is a stunner for many in the CAR-T field, especially after all the hoopla at Novartis around its work.

Azam and his team have played point for one of Novartis’s largest pipeline moves, leaping in early on CAR-T therapies that reengineer a patient’s T cells into attack vehicles pointed at cancer cells. Working through a partnership at the University of Pennsylvania, the group has advanced one of the leading CAR-T therapies now in the pipeline, as it races against Kite $KITE and Juno $JUNO to be in the very first wave of fresh drugs to hit the market.

The field has been moving prompt, but not always forward. Juno experienced a brief interruption for its lead program when the FDA imposed a clinical hold for a few days that ultimately derailed its development schedule and delayed any application until 2018. That leaves Kite and Novartis racing to the FDA, with Kite planning a obedience later this year.

At one point, Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez told reporters that he had made out a blank check for its CAR-T work, determined to pay what was necessary to get these drugs to the market as prompt as possible. In a latest letter to shareholders, Jimenez highlighted the CAR-T work as a key part of its strategy for its oncology R&D effort. But in the midst of a heated Phase III rivalry, the pharma giant believes that an isolated unit no longer makes sense. And that is likely to add to the impression that Novartis is falling behind.

The news hit Kite and Juno as well, tho’. Shares of Juno dropped 5% Wednesday morning, with Kite down 4%.

[email protected] Still a major deep-throat for CAR-T sentiment however. Basically no one championing it at $NVS any more

In response to a query from Endpoints, a spokesperson for Novartis issued the following statement:

“We have made the decision to re-integrate activities conducted by the Cell & Gene Therapies Unit into the larger Novartis organization, as part of a natural evolution of our internal organizational design. An isolated Unit worked well under our prior Pharma Division structure, but with a fresh integrated development model, we can efficiently advance our work on CART as part of our concentrate in immuno-oncology by reintegrating the functions.

This organizational switch will not influence the plan to file CTL019 in pediatric r/r ALL with the US FDA in early two thousand seventeen and with EMA later in 2017.

Most associates who were previously dedicated to cell & gene therapies will now be redeployed to areas where they will share their skill and improve execution of novel therapeutics in the immunotherapy space to better supply on our mission to improve and extend people’s lives.

These organizational switches will influence approximately one hundred twenty positions across several different Novartis affiliates. Novartis is committed to assisting in the placement of impacted associates wherever adequate internal opportunities may exist and in treating displaced associates fairly and with dignity.”

In a followup, Novartis added that the budge to dissolve the unit will not affect its collaboration with Penn.

Novartis and Penn have an special global collaboration to research, develop and commercialize CAR T cell therapies for the investigational treatment of cancers. We proceed to work with Penn under the terms of our agreement and look forward to advancing CART therapies.

The best place to read Endpoints News ? In your inbox.

Full-text daily reports for those who detect, develop, and market drugs. Join 17,000+ biopharma pros who read Endpoints News by email every day.

Scoop: Novartis disbands its pioneering cell and gene therapy unit – ENDPOINTS NEWS

Scoop: Novartis disbands its pioneering cell and gene therapy unit

Share a link to this article

Novartis is dissolving its high-profile cell and gene therapy unit operating under the guiding arm of Usman “Oz” Azam, Endpoints has learned.

Azam has issued a note to the four hundred staffers in the group, which was obtained by Endpoints, that says:

“The risk of embarking on a fresh venture in uncharted territory is that things don’t always work out as envisioned. Today, I have the unfortunate task of announcing that we are dissolving the Cell and Gene Therapies Unit.”

Novartis confirmed that the 400-member group is being disbanded, with most being “redeployed” to fresh positions while one hundred twenty could be left without a job.

That stir is a stunner for many in the CAR-T field, especially after all the hoopla at Novartis around its work.

Azam and his team have played point for one of Novartis’s fattest pipeline moves, leaping in early on CAR-T therapies that reengineer a patient’s T cells into attack vehicles pointed at cancer cells. Working through a partnership at the University of Pennsylvania, the group has advanced one of the leading CAR-T therapies now in the pipeline, as it races against Kite $KITE and Juno $JUNO to be in the very first wave of fresh drugs to hit the market.

The field has been moving swift, but not always forward. Juno experienced a brief interruption for its lead program when the FDA imposed a clinical hold for a few days that ultimately derailed its development schedule and delayed any application until 2018. That leaves Kite and Novartis racing to the FDA, with Kite planning a conformity later this year.

At one point, Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez told reporters that he had made out a blank check for its CAR-T work, determined to pay what was necessary to get these drugs to the market as rapid as possible. In a latest letter to shareholders, Jimenez highlighted the CAR-T work as a key part of its strategy for its oncology R&D effort. But in the midst of a heated Phase III rivalry, the pharma giant believes that an isolated unit no longer makes sense. And that is likely to add to the impression that Novartis is falling behind.

The news hit Kite and Juno as well, tho’. Shares of Juno dropped 5% Wednesday morning, with Kite down 4%.

[email protected] Still a major deepthroat for CAR-T sentiment tho’. Basically no one championing it at $NVS any more

In response to a query from Endpoints, a spokesperson for Novartis issued the following statement:

“We have made the decision to re-integrate activities conducted by the Cell & Gene Therapies Unit into the larger Novartis organization, as part of a natural evolution of our internal organizational design. An isolated Unit worked well under our prior Pharma Division structure, but with a fresh integrated development model, we can efficiently advance our work on CART as part of our concentrate in immuno-oncology by reintegrating the functions.

This organizational switch will not influence the plan to file CTL019 in pediatric r/r ALL with the US FDA in early two thousand seventeen and with EMA later in 2017.

Most associates who were previously dedicated to cell & gene therapies will now be redeployed to areas where they will share their skill and improve execution of novel therapeutics in the immunotherapy space to better produce on our mission to improve and extend people’s lives.

These organizational switches will influence approximately one hundred twenty positions across several different Novartis affiliates. Novartis is committed to assisting in the placement of impacted associates wherever adequate internal opportunities may exist and in treating displaced associates fairly and with dignity.”

In a followup, Novartis added that the stir to dissolve the unit will not affect its collaboration with Penn.

Novartis and Penn have an off the hook global collaboration to research, develop and commercialize CAR T cell therapies for the investigational treatment of cancers. We proceed to work with Penn under the terms of our agreement and look forward to advancing CART therapies.

The best place to read Endpoints News ? In your inbox.

Full-text daily reports for those who detect, develop, and market drugs. Join 17,000+ biopharma pros who read Endpoints News by email every day.

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