Swiss pharmaceutical company ups investment in Israeli biotech firm

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) – The Swiss drug maker Novartis will invest an extra $15 million in Gamida Cell, an Israeli developer of stem cell therapies, Gamida said.

Novartis last year invested $35 million in the company for a 15 percent stake, the Tachles Jewish weekly of Switzerland reported this week. The deal could reach $600 million if Novartis exercises a buyout option that expires in 2016.

The $15 million investment will be used to advance Gamida Cell’s clinical programs, including the development of an experimental treatment for patients with high risk hematological malignancies, or blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma and sickle cell disease.

Gamida plans to initiate a Phase III clinical trial with NiCord in mid-2016, according to Reuters.

Novartis will not have rights or options to Gamida Cell products or technology under the terms of the agreement.

Other Gamida shareholders include Israeli firms that have been the subjects of politically motivated divestment by European business, including Elbit Imaging and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.

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