NOVARTIS, CYTOPIA TO DEVELOP AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE TREATMENT

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Swiss drugmaker Novartis and Canadian firm Cytopia have entered into a global license and research and development collaboration to develop orally active, small molecule therapeutics targeting JAK3 kinase for the prevention of transplant rejection and the treatment of multiple indications in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, the companies announced. Novartis will assume responsibility for product development and commercialization. Cytopia has retained co-promotion rights for Australia and New Zealand.

"This deal is an important recognition of Cytopia's internationally- leading position in the development of kinase inhibitors, particularly for the JAK family of kinases that are pivotal in the immune system," said Kevin Healey, Cytopia's managing director and CEO. "

Under the terms of the agreement, Cytopia will receive payments from Novartis of approximately $9.5 million over three years including an up front payment and research funding. Cytopia may become eligible to receive development, regulatory and sales milestones, as well, which could total approximately $205 million, the companies said.