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Data on Novartis Skin Cancer Treatment

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Novartis (NVS) announced positive top-line results from a phase II trial, BOLT (Basal cell carcinoma Outcomes in LDE225 Trial) on skin cancer candidate LDE225.

We note that Novartis is evaluating LDE225 for the treatment of advanced basal cell carcinoma.

The BOLT trial is being conducted to assess the safety and efficacy of two oral dose levels of LDE225 (200 mg and 800 mg) in patients suffering from locally advanced or metastatic basal cell carcinoma.

The study met its primary endpoint of achieving an objective response rate in patients within six months of treatment. The objective responses include complete response (clinically significant tumor response with complete absence of disease) and partial response (clinically significant tumor shrinkage).

We note that Novartis is also evaluating LDE225 for the treatment of myelofibrosis, leukemia and solid tumors.

We are encouraged by Novartis' efforts to develop various treatments for cancer. The company recently announced the acquisition of a privately held biotechnology company, CoStim Pharmaceuticals Inc.

CoStim Pharma is a biotechnology company, which focuses on harnessing the immune system to eliminate immune-blocking signals from cancer.

CoStim Pharma’s acquisition will strengthen Novartis' position in cancer immunotherapy discovery programs.

The acquisition will add late discovery stage immunotherapy programs directed to several targets, including PD-1 to Novartis' pipeline.

We remind investors that Novartis boasts of a strong oncology portfolio with drugs like Gleevec, Sandostatin SC/Sandostatin LAR, Afinitor, Exjade, Zometa, Femara and Jakavi among others.

Hence, the development of cancer immunotherapy agents will further complement the extensive portfolio of drugs.

Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks include Shire (SHPG), Auxilium Pharmaceuticals (AUXL) and Forest Laboratories (FRX). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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