Multinational pharmaceutical giant Novartis International AG (NYSE: NVS) has announced that it is investing up to an additional $15 million in Israeli Gamida Cell . Gamida Cell develops cellular and immune therapies for the treatment of cancer and orphan genetic diseases.
Investors in Gamida include Elbit Medical Technologies now 22.5 percent stake; Clal Biotechnology Industries now have a 18 percent stake; and Israel Healthcare Venture, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Auriga Ventures and Denali Ventures.
The investment will be used to advance Gamida Cell’s clinical programs, including the development of NiCord, an experimental treatment for patients with high risk hematological malignancies (blood cancers). The company will begin a Phase III clinical trial with NiCord in mid-2016. NiCord is derived from a single cord blood unit, which is expanded and enriched with stem cells and immune modulatory cells, utilizing Gamida Cell’s proprietary NAM technology.
Gamida Cell president and CEO Yael Margolin said, “We are very pleased to receive continued support from Novartis. This support is testament to the potential of Gamida Cell’s immune therapy platform and its potential to improve outcomes for patients with diseases like leukemia and lymphoma who need a bone marrow transplant but who do not have a matched related donor.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Novartis will immediately invest $5 million in Gamida Cell for an additional 2.5% equity interest. In addition, subject to the close of an equity financing by the end of 2017 to fund the late stage development of NiCord, Novartis will invest up to another $10 million as part of the equity raise, subject to certain conditions.
This financing follows the initial August 2014 agreement under which Novartis invested $35 million in return for a 15% equity interest in Gamida Cell. Prior to that Novartis had reportedly been in talks to buy Gamida Cell for $600 million. Even though the talks did not mature into a deal, Novartis did have an option to buy Gamida Cell when it made its $35 million investment. However, Novartis now says that it will not have rights or options to Gamida Cell products or technology under the terms of the agreement.