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Most Innovative Companies

Novartis

The World's Most Innovative Companies 2018

Getting any new drug to market is a moonshot, but Novartis’s August 2017 launch of the potent new CAR-T therapy, Kymriah, was more like landing on Mars. Kymriah, which is used to treat relapsed or resistant B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common child cancer in the U.S., is the first gene therapy drug ever approved by the FDA. Customized to each individual, the treatment takes T cells from the patient, reengineers them with a surface protein that targets tumor cells, and infuses them back into the body. In clinical trials, the overall remission rate within three months of treatment was 83%; many patients have passed the four-year survival mark. With its research partners at the University of Pennsylvania, Novartis is now developing a pipeline of CAR-T drugs for other blood cancers as well as solid tumors. “We want to take on the toughest problems,” says CEO and former head of drug development Vasant Narasimhan. “Our overall vision is a world where no child has to die from B-cell cancer.”

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headquarters: Basel, Switzerland
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