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Palobiofarma, which focuses on adenosine products and has locations in Navarra and Barcelona, recently announced it has signed a licensing agreement with Novartis for a possible drug for metastatic cancer. As a result of this agreement, Novartis will have the exclusive global rights to develop, manufacture and market the product known as PBF-509, which will go into phase I clinical trials in the near future.

Palobiofarma will receive an initial payout of $15 millions plus bonuses for hitting short-term clinical goals, money to develop and market projects and royalties in the double digits on net sales of PBF-509.

"We are delighted to collaborate with Novartis, a strong player in the immuno-oncology field. This agreement represents one of the best agreements ever signed in the history of the Spanish Biotechnology, and we are very proud of it. We have good reasons to believe that the current agreement is just the start of a successful research and development collaboration between the two companies," says Palobiofarma CEO Julio Castro.

Moreover, Novartis will have access to several patents held by the Spanish biotechnology firm associated with the role of adenosine in immunotherapy. Tumor cells have developed mechanisms to evade the immune system. One of these is by producing a natural molecule called adenosine, which limits the immune system’s ability to destroy cancerous cells. Palobiofarma is working on compounds like PBF-509, which inhibits the adenosine receptors and could help the immune system better recognize and eliminate the tumor.

This agreement is part of the strategy established by multinational corporation Novartis, which is committed to immunotherapy to treat cancer and, in addition to its recent acquisition of PBF-509 from Palobiofarma, already has four clinical trials underway and five more ready to start in 2016.

As Castro explained to Reuters, this agreement has allowed the company to forego a round of funding and focus on developing its pipeline and discovering new drugs.

Three Spanish venture capital firms (Inverready, Fitalent and Sodena) and three private investors, including Castro himself and CSO Juan Camacho, have invested in Palobiofarma since it was founded in 2006.

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