Global healthcare company Novartis has announced plans to acquire Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA), a spin-off radiopharmaceutical firm established by former CERN physicist Stefano Buono in 2002. With an expected price of $3.9B, said the firm in a statement, the acquisition will strengthen Novartis’ oncology portfolio by introducing a new therapy platform for tackling neuroendocrine tumours. Trademarked Lutathera, and based on the isotope lutetium-177, the technology was approved in Europe in September 2017 for the treatment of certain neuroendocrine tumours and is under review in the US.

With its roots in nuclear-physics expertise acquired at CERN, AAA started its commercial activity with the production of radiotracers for medical imaging. The successful model made it possible for AAA to invest in nuclear research to produce innovative radiopharmaceuticals. “We believe that the combination of our expertise in radiopharmaceuticals and theragnostic strategy together with the global oncology experience and infrastructure of Novartis, provide the best prospects for our patients, physicians and employees, as well as the broader nuclear medicine community,” said Buono, who is CEO of AAA.