Novartis and Blackstone Launch Anthos Therapeutics With $250 Million

small rocket launching out of hand

Blackstone Life Sciences, a private investment firm, along with Novartis, launched Anthos Therapeutics with a $250 million investment. Anthos will be headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.

As part of the deal, Anthos licensed MAA868 from Novartis. MAA868 is an antibody directed at Factor XI and XIa, both components of the intrinsic coagulation pathway. The compound has the potential to prevent a range of cardiovascular disorders involved in blood clotting, and which the companies believe will have significant advantages over current care paradigms.

Blackstone Life Sciences provided the $250 million. Anthos’ board of directors will include Paris Panayiotopoulos, currently managing director of Blackstone and former chief executive officer of Ariad Pharmaceuticals; Ari Brettman, Blackstone Principal; and Jonathan Freeman, Blackstone Senior Advisor and Anthos co-founder. Freeman is also Anthos’ chief operating officer.

Shaun Coughlin, Global Head of Cardiovascular and Metabolism for Novartis joins the Anthos board as an Observer. Craig Basson, Head of Cardiovascular and Metabolism Translational Medicine will serve on Anthos’ Scientific Advisory Board.

John Glasspool will act as the Anthos chief executive officer. Glasspool was a former leader of Novartis’ cardiovascular franchise, serving as Global Head of Novartis’ Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases from 2004 to 2008 and more recently acting as Head of Corporate Strategy and a member of the Executive Team at Baxalta when it was acquired by Shire.

“I am excited to be leading Anthos upon its formation by Blackstone Life Sciences and Novartis,” Glasspool stated. “Anthos is well-positioned to leverage contributions from Blackstone and Novartis to deliver life-saving therapies to patients with cardiovascular disease. We are building a leading cardiovascular company, laser-focused on genetically and pharmacologically validated targets.”

According to the American Heart Association, thrombotic disorders cause about 500,000 deaths each year. Thrombotic disorders include ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke, peripheral artery disease, venous thromboembolism and other orphan diseases.

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“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,” stated Jay Bradner, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. “Blackstone Life Sciences has the necessary experience and has assembled a first-class team at Anthos to drive the further development of MAA868.”

Blackstone Life Sciences was launched in October 2018 when Blackstone Group acquired Clarus Ventures. Blackstone Life Sciences had a goal of acquiring drugs from pharmaceutical companies that weren’t being developed or were being abandoned, and to then fund their development. Anthos is its first investment, and it is completely in line with that strategy.

Blackstone is funding Anthos, and will control the clinical development for MAA868. Novartis will retain a minority stake.

Novartis had planned two Phase II trials comparing MAA868 against other drugs, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Eliquis (apixaban) in atrial fibrillation and other thrombotic diseases. Now those trials have been withdrawn. A Wall Street Journal article suggests Anthos has enough cash to advance MAA868 to market.

Nick Galakatos, Head of Blackstone Life Sciences and Chairman of Anthos, stated, “Blackstone Life Sciences is focused on bringing important medicines and healthcare technologies to market, often working in partnership with major biopharmaceutical companies to provide them with access to capital, scientific expertise and hands-on operational leadership. We are excited to collaborate with Novartis to create Anthos, with the goal of delivering important therapies for the high-risk cardiovascular patients who need them.”

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