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Novartis, Blackstone launch Anthos Therapeutics to develop cardiovascular drugs

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A large drugmaker and a life sciences investment firm have launched a new company that will develop drugs for cardiovascular diseases.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis and New York-based Blackstone’s Life Sciences platform announced Wednesday the launch of Anthos Therapeutics, whose focus will be on high-risk cardiovascular patients. The new firm will be headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The funds that Blackstone Life Sciences manages have invested $250 million for the company, while Novartis has licensed to it MAA868. The drug candidate, currently in Phase II development, targets Factor XI and Factor XIa, which are key components of the intrinsic coagulation pathway. The drug is meant for cardiovascular disease patients who are currently underserved by anti-coagulant therapies. The companies said it has potential to treat a variety of cardiovascular disorders with minimal or no bleeding risk.

“The need for new medicines to treat cardiovascular diseases is clear, and this agreement is part of our strategy to work with innovators outside our walls to advance medicines that have the potential to have a positive impact for patients,” Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research President Jay Bradner said in a statement.

ClinicalTrials.gov lists two Phase II studies of MAA868, both of which have been withdrawn. One, in patients with atrial fibrillation, randomized patients to receive either one of three dose levels of MAA868 or Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Eliquis (apixaban). The other compared two doses of the Novartis drug against enoxaparin, which is generic, as a preventive therapy against thromboembolic events in patients receiving total knee replacements. Both studies had estimated study start dates in October 2018 and were respectively expected to reach primary completion in November of this year and January of next year, but did not enroll any patients. The thromboembolic event study was withdrawn in September, while the atrial fibrillation study – which is listed as canceled – was canceled in October. It is not stated whether the withdrawals were due to the drug being out-licensed to Anthos or some other reason.

Photo: Bill Ingalls, NASA, via Getty Images

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