Novartis AG buying Cambridge cancer drug firm

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Swiss drug giant Novartis AG, moving to establish itself as a top player in the hot field of cancer treatment known as immunotherapy, Monday said it had snapped up two-year-old CoStim Pharmaceuticals Inc., a venture-backed Cambridge biotech using research from Boston academic labs.

CoStim, bankrolled by local venture firms MPM Capital and Atlas Ventures as well as Partners Innovation Fund, is developing a pipeline drugs that stimulate a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. CoStim will be rolled into Novartis’ Cambridge-based immunotherapies research team which will start with 20 to 30 people, but is likely to expand,

Novartis is one of a number of big pharmaceutical companies exploring immunotherapies, which treat disease by spurring, enhancing, or turning off the body’s immune response.

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