MPM Capital and Atlas Venture have announced that portfolio company CoStim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has been acquired by Novartis for an undisclosed amount.
CoStim, founded in 2012 by MPM Managing Director Luke Evnin together with MPM Managing Director-Operations Robert Millman, is an emerging immuno-oncology company developing monoclonal antibody drugs that enable a patient's own immune system to better fight cancer.
"I am thrilled that we were able to bring together compelling science with a world class team to build the premier biotech company developing a focused and highly attractive pipeline of antibody agents directed to costimulatory targets for the treatment of cancer," said Robert Millman, co-founder of CoStim. "Clearly Novartis shares our vision to become leaders in the treatment of cancer with a pipeline of immune-oncology agents." The commitment by MPM to build CoStim arose from the 2010 MPM Medical and Scientific Advisory meeting where Professor Arlene Sharpe of Harvard presented her work describing how T cells respond to the complex array of positive and negative inputs from their environment and how blocking negative signals could be even more important for anti-cancer T cell activity than further activating T cells. Working with scientific co-founders Professors Arlene Sharpe, Gordon Freeman and Vijay Kuchroo, CoStim subsequently assembled a portfolio of agents directed at multiple T cell regulatory targets via relationships established with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Immutep SA.
MPM provided the initial capital to found CoStim, and later co-led the formal Series A investment in early 2013 with Atlas Venture.
Additional investors included Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation and the Partners Innovation Fund. Robert Millman was initially President of CoStim; Luke Evnin became Chairman of the Board. Dr. Dan Hicklin was subsequently hired as CSO and President.
"The field of immunomodulation is the most exciting area of oncology drug development today," said Dr. Daniel Hicklin, CoStim's President and Chief Scientific Officer. "We are excited about the potential of CoStim's portfolio of immunotherapies and pleased to be joining Novartis to further advance these molecules. We appreciate Novartis' strong commitment and capabilities in oncology which provides an excellent opportunity towards accelerating the development of our therapeutics as new medicines for cancer patients."