Oncology research at Novartis

Fighting cancer with next-generation therapeutics.

Cancer is a formidable enemy that uses molecular tricks to evade drugs and the human immune systems. Efforts to fight it are advancing rapidly, and more patients are living longer with cancer than ever before. But cancer death rates are still too high, particularly for patients with advanced malignancies.

Breast cancer cells.
Breast cancer cells. Credit Christophe Antczak.

The oncology team is developing a robust portfolio of treatments that destroy tumors selectively and strip away their defenses. They include:

  • Chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cell therapies: CAR-T cell therapies train T-cells from the patient's own immune system to attack and kill tumors.
  • Targeted Radioligand (RLT) therapies: RLT therapies attach radioactive isotopes to proteins that home in on cancer cell targets with high precision, thereby sparing healthy tissues.
  • Novel small molecules: We are developing novel small molecules against targets that were previously considered undruggable.

Our researchers leverage fundamental knowledge of cancer biology and bring new chemistry to bear on the most difficult therapeutic challenges. For instance, Novartis researchers discovered a new immunotherapy target called TIM-3 that could bring new hope for patients diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome. And we are developing a treatment that blocks tumor-promoting inflammation in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Importantly, our work is not limited to pioneering discoveries in the laboratory. We also collaborate and test hypotheses in early-phase clinical trials, so we learn directly from patients.

"Our work is 100 percent oriented towards helping patients with cancer," Engelman says. "And we're looking for more than just incremental advances. We have an unmet need for profound advances that lead to long-term remissions or even cures. And that's what we're trying to address.”

Reimagine medicine with Novartis

Learn about opportunities to join our oncology team