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Novartis acquires Boston-based IFM Tre for work on drugs to modify the immune system

It’s the lucky biotech that has a short and sweet runway. Most companies bring a drug to market — and begin to bring in revenue — only after years or decades of work.

But a company backed by Atlas Venture that’s less than a year old is the first acquisition of 2019 for Novartis. The pharmaceutical giant is paying more than $300 million upfront for IFM Tre, a Boston-based startup, in a deal that could be worth more than $1.5 billion if the company’s drugs meet certain undisclosed milestones.

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