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Progenics sues Novartis unit over patent filings for prostate cancer treatment

Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc. filed a lawsuit in Germany against the University of Heidelberg and a unit of Novartis AG over ownership rights to a radiopharmaceutical to treat prostate cancer.

New York-based Progenics said the radiopharmaceutical PSMA-617 arose from a research collaboration between its unit Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals and the University of Heidelberg. The university performed analyses of several drug candidates that targeted prostate-specific membrane antigen, or PSMA. Those experimental compounds were discovered by Molecular Insight and shared with the university, Progenics said.

The U.S. company said that, without its knowledge, the university exclusively licensed the patent filings to ABX GmbH, which then sublicensed it to Endocyte Inc.

Switzerland's Novartis acquired West Lafayette, Ind.-based Endocyte, a developer of cancer treatments using radioactive compounds, for $2.1 billion in December 2018.

Progenics said that in February, Endocyte filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit filed by Molecular Insight against the university in the District Court of Mannheim in Germany.

Progenics noted that the European Patent Office accepted Molecular Insight's request and stayed the examination of the European patent applications in question.

Molecular Insight also made a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that it was co-owner of the pending U.S. patent applications.