Novartis strengthens vaccine pipeline with agreement for novel CMV vaccines candidate

NovartisNovartis has strengthened its vaccines pipeline through an exclusive agreement to license AlphaVax' investigational Cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine program. This CMV agreement adds to Novartis' promising early stage pipeline of novel vaccines, which focuses on significant unmet needs for the prevention of fatal diseases such as meningococcal infections and other hospital and community acquired infections. These include vaccines to prevent Helicobacter pylori infections, a major cause of gastritis that can lead to gastric cancer, and a Group B Streptococcus vaccine candidate with potential to protect against 85 percent of neonatal sepsis and meningitis.

"We are happy to gain access to a promising vaccine candidate for the prevention of cytomegalovirus infections, which are particularly problematic during pregnancy as they can cause permanent disability in newborns", said Dr. Andrin Oswald, CEO of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.

AlphaVax is responsible for finalization of phase I clinical trials, and will provide the clinical trial material for the phase II trials. Novartis will be responsible for the development of the CMV program for phase II clinical trials onwards as well as for registration and world-wide commercialization. The AlphaVax vaccine candidate is based on an alphavirus replicon particle encoding CMV phosphoprotein 65, IE1 (immediate early protein 1) and soluble gB protein.

Novartis signed a definitive agreement to acquire rights to AlphaVax' investigational CMV program for an upfront payment of USD 20 million, which also grants rights of first negotiation to AlphaVax' preclinical respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) program. In addition Novartis has an option to make an equity investment at the end of phase II clinical trials for 4 million shares. Under the terms of the agreement AlphaVax will be eligible for milestones and royalties.

About Novartis
Novartis AG provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Focused solely on healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, diagnostic tools and consumer health products. Novartis is the only company with leading positions in these areas. In 2007, the Group's continuing operations (excluding divestments in 2007) achieved net sales of USD 38.1 billion and net income of USD 6.5 billion. Approximately USD 6.4 billion was invested in R&D activities throughout the Group. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 97,000 full-time associates and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit