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Xencor signs cancer-drug deal with Novartis; its stock surges 32%

Xencor signs cancer-drug deal with Novartis; its stock surges 32%
A worker at a Xencor lab in Monrovia in 2006. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Shares of Los Angeles-area biotech firm Xencor Inc. soared Tuesday by 32% after the company announced a deal with Swiss drug giant Novartis.

Under the agreement, Novartis will pay Xencor $150 million now and potentially much more in the future as the companies work to develop and commercialize two experimental cancer drugs.

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Monrovia-based Xencor will keep the rights to the drugs in the U.S. while Novartis will have those commercialization rights in the rest of the world.

The drugs, one for acute myeloid leukemia and the other for B-cell malignancies, are expected to begin early tests in patients later this year.

Xencor has 60 employees and expects to hire more in coming months.

Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, saw its shares climb 2.3% on Tuesday.

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