Novartis gains option to license Quark's mid-stage kidney drug

Novartis signed an option agreement to license exclusive worldwide rights to Quark Pharmaceuticals' experimental kidney drug, QPI-1002, in a deal valued at as much as $670 million.

Under the agreement, Novartis will make an upfront payment of $10 million to Quark, which is eligible to receive a total of $670 million including exercise fees and milestone payments, as well as royalties, if the Swiss drugmaker decides to license the drug. The licensing deal also stipulates that Novartis will finance further clinical trials of the drug.

The drug, which is currently in mid-stage trials, is being developed for the prevention of acute kidney injury in patients undergoing major cardiovascular surgery or kidney damage related to transplants. QPI-1002 is designed to temporarily inhibit expression of the stress-response gene, p53, and thus prevent cell apoptosis, "potentially opening opportunities for Novartis to novel treatments in additional indications," Quark CEO Daniel Zurr noted.

The drug has received orphan drug status for delayed graft function in kidney transplantation from both European and US regulators.

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