Oxford BioMedica wins big contract for Novartis cell therapy

A sign marks a building on Novartis' campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

LONDON (Reuters) - Novartis has signed a major contract with Oxford BioMedica that could earn the British company more than $100 million over three years for supplying the Swiss drugmaker with material for its novel cell therapy CTL019.

The deal, announced by Oxford BioMedica on Thursday, could help put the veteran biotech firm on a path to sustainable profitability.

The contract is for the supply of lentiviral vectors used to generate CTL019, a new kind of treatment for hard-to-treat leukemia that is expected to reach the market this year.

A U.S. advisory panel will discuss the case for approving CTL019 at a meeting on July 12 and Novartis has already designated the treatment as a potential blockbuster.

Oxford BioMedica will received $10 million from Novartis upfront, as well as payments for various performance incentives and bioprocessing and development services.

It will also get a royalty on future sales of CTL-019. Jefferies analysts said this could earn Oxford BioMedica between 65 million and 75 million pounds ($84-97 million) a year, assuming CTL019 peak sales of at least $1 billion.

The agreement also covers the supply of vectors for other undisclosed Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell (CART) products.

Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Keith Weir