Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis announced on Thursday that it had reached an agreement to acquire the American group Mariana Oncology, for a price that could ultimately be in the region of $1.1 billion.

Novartis, which is seeking to strengthen its position in innovative cancer treatments, will initially pay an initial amount of $1 billion, to which could be added additional payments of $750 million, the Basel-based laboratory said in a press release.

Mariana Oncology, a biotech company based in Watertown (Massachusetts), specializes in radioligand therapies (RLT) to cure cancers for which there is no effective treatment yet.

The company's lead drug candidate, MC-339, is currently being developed for the treatment of small-cell lung cancer.

Novartis itself has a portfolio of two radioligand-targeted therapies, for prostate cancer and gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors.

Radioligand treatments are precision cancer therapies that combine a targeting compound (ligand) and a therapeutic radioisotope (radioactive particle).

The market greeted the news without euphoria, as Novartis shares were perfectly stable on the Zurich stock exchange on Thursday.

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