Novartis announced Monday morning that it has acquired DtX Pharma, a San Diego-based biopharma, in an effort to bolster its neuroscience capabilities.

As part of the deal, Novartis is providing DtX Pharma with a $500 million upfront payment, with additional payments of up to $500 million upon completion of pre-specified milestones.

The top asset Novartis is picking up through the deal is DtX Pharma’s Fatty Acid Ligand Conjugated OligoNucleotide (FALCON) platform, which enables the delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) therapeutics to tissues beyond the liver. This enhances biodistribution and promotes cellular uptake.

Additionally, Novartis is gaining access to DtX Pharma’s lead program, DTx-1252, which is currently in preclinical development. DTx-1252 also has an Orphan Drug Designation from the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Type 1A (CMT1A), a neuromuscular, autosomal-dominant disease.

In beefing up its siRNA platform with FALCON, Novartis also acquired two other early stage programs with neuromuscular and central nervous system indications.

“We look forward to continuing the development of DTx’s therapeutic programs and bringing new hope to patients with neuromuscular and other neurological disorders for which there have historically been few treatment options,” Fiona Marshall, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said in a statement. “We are also excited to bring DTx’s FALCON technology to Novartis and explore its potential to deliver drugs to extrahepatic tissues.”

The deal to strengthen Novartis’ position in the neuroscience market comes shortly after the Swiss pharma giant announced it would divest its ‘front of eye’ ophthalmology assets to global eye health company Bausch + Lomb for $2.5 billion. The company also recently signed a nearly $400 million manufacturing deal with Samsung Biologics earlier this month.

As for DtX Pharma, CEO Artie Suckow, PhD, said he was “thrilled” to have Novartis’ considerable backing as it continues to investigate the underlying causes of CMT1A and how to assist patients seeking treatment.

“I am also extremely proud of the commitment and passion of our team, which has established DTx Pharma as a leader in extra-hepatic delivery of siRNA, as demonstrated by our work to advance the first investigational FALCON siRNA designed to be delivered to the peripheral nervous system to treat the genetic cause of CMT1A,” he said in a statement.