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The Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis is beefing up its cancer treatment portfolio with the purchase of Endocyte (ecyt), a US firm, for $2.1 billion.

Novartis will pay $24 a share for Endocyte, 54% more than its closing price Wednesday of $15.56, the Basel-based company said Thursday.

Endocyte was founded in Purdue Research Park and has been working for more than two decades to develop personalized cancer treatments that are more targeted to a specific patient's cancer than traditional, broad-spectrum radiation therapy. In the transaction, Endocyte would be merged with a newly formed subsidiary of Novartis.

Until the deal is finalised, Endocyte will continue to operate as a separate and independent company.

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Novartis said in September that it will cut 2,550 jobs in Switzerland and Britain over four years, as the it strives to boost profits and focus on new medicines. Lu-PSMA-617 is now being investigated in the Phase III global VISION clinical trial in men with mCRPC, a disease with limited treatment options and significant unmet medical need.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis made a big investment in radiopharmaceuticals with the Thursday announcement that it will acquire a U.S. firm with an oncology drug in late-stage development. Lu-PSMA-617, which targets PSMA, has shown promising Phase II data. Today's announcement about the proposed acquisition of Endocyte builds on our growing capability in radiopharmaceuticals, which is expected to be an increasingly important treatment option for patients and a key growth driver for our business.

The Endocyte pipeline includes additional investigational RLTs, including 225Ac-PSMA-617 in preclinical studies for the treatment of mCRPC. However, it is still subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by shareholders of Endocyte.

Endocyte's specialism is the development of radiopharmaceuticals, which are a new type of drug that can carry radioactive substances directly to cancer cells to kill tumour cells at close range. Novartis expects to fund the acquisition through available cash.