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Up to 120 jobs set to go as Novartis closes down Cell and Gene Therapies unit

Published on 01/09/16 at 09:52am

News has emerged that Novartis plans to close down its Cell and Gene Therapies unit, with up to 120 workers set to lose their jobs.

Although Novartis has consistently emphasised its focus on CAR-T therapies, which reengineers T-cells to attack cancer cells, the closure of this unit raises serious doubts over this particular field of cancer therapy.

The unit boasted a 400-strong team, but only 280 positions will be retained and moved into other divisions within the company. The company indicates that under its new “integrated development model”, there is no longer a space for the business unit.

A Novartis spokesperson told Endpoints: “We have made the decision to re-integrate activities conducted by the Cell and Gene Therapies Unit into the larger Novartis organisation, as part of a natural evolution of our internal organisation design… we can efficiently advance our work on CART as part of our focus in immuno-oncology by reintegrating the functions.”

This by no means indicates that Novartis is not committed to the immune-oncology field, however. On several occasions, the company has indicated that it is strengthening its portfolio in this area to become one of the best in the business.

Global head of drug development Vasant Narasimhan told investors during the July earnings call: “I think we’ve done that over 6 deals looking at various immuno-oncology mechanisms of action. And we believe we have one of the broadest portfolios in I-O. So, our view is to take a balanced approach, continue to bring expertise in-house that can evaluate external technology but also, determine - what’s the best path with our internal assets, particularly in combination with targeted therapies.”

Sean Murray

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