Penn and Novartis Unite on Anticancer Approach

August 6, 2012

The New York Times and Bloomberg News reported on the announcement of an exclusive global research alliance and licensing agreement between the University of Pennsylvania and Novartis to expand the research and development of novel cellular immunotherapies using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technologies. The agreement follows a Penn research team’s 2011 publication of breakthrough results in several chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients treated with this personalized immunotherapy technique. News of the alliance, which will include a $20 million investment from Novartis in the construction of a new, first-of-its-kind Center for Advanced Cellular Therapies (CACT) on Penn’s campus, was also covered in a front-page story in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Penn’s intellectual resources, combined with a pharmaceutical industry leader like Novartis, offer a powerful symbiotic relationship in our mutual goal of finding more effective treatments for cancer,” said J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, dean of the Perelman School of the Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and executive vice president for the Health System. Carl June, MD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine and director of Translational Research at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, said the agreement provides a pathway for expansion of the research into clinical trials for additional types of cancers beyond CLL. “I never thought this would happen, that the pharma industry would get into ultra-personalized therapy,” June told Bloomberg News. “We had lots of venture capital interest, but it’s hard to be a new company and it takes time to get set up. The fastest route to widespread availability is to use an existing company.”

Penn Medicine News Release
New York Times
Bloomberg News
 Philadelphia Inquirer