Crinetics spins out radiopharma efforts into a new company, highlighting the growing field's allure
Largely known for its nonpeptide small molecule research, Crinetics has been keeping its radiopharma work comparatively under wraps. But that changed Monday afternoon as the California biotech spun out a new company focused solely on the burgeoning field.
Crinetics launched Radionetics after the closing bell Monday, the company announced, seeding the new entity with $30 million raised from 5AM Ventures and Frazier Healthcare Partners. Radionetics will start with its own radiopharma-centric platform and a pipeline of 10 programs aimed at solid tumors.
“We’re going to hit the ground running,” Crinetics CEO Scott Struthers told Endpoints News. Struthers will also serve on the Radionetics board, and he added that there’s no timeline on any of the programs yet.
The pipeline comes out of Crinetics’ discovery engine, and it’s aimed at creating a potentially new business model for the company. Though it’s not giving Radionetics any more money, Struthers said Crinetics is essentially acting as a VC by signing onto a research agreement with Radionetics. The spinout will receive an exclusive license for the platform and program in exchange for more than $1 billion in milestones.
Struthers’ motivation to launch this new company now largely stems from the success he’s seen with the prostate cancer drug Lutathera, developed by Advanced Accelerator Applications and acquired by Novartis in 2017. He wants to hit “all solid tumors” with Radionetics, which he freely admits is a bold claim.
But both companies’ focus on small molecules means they can hit more targets than companies that rely on peptides, as many radiopharma companies do.
“The clinical benefit there has just been remarkable such that Novartis has made it one of its pillars of the platforms for their company,” Struthers said. “With that success, any real cancer center now is going to need this type of nuclear medicine capability … we want to expand that to a broad range of additional cancer types.”
As the radiopharma world continues to develop, Novartis has emerged as the leader of the pack. In addition to Lutathera, the biopharma received a breakthrough therapy designation for a program acquired in its $2.1 billion Endocyte buyout back in 2018, after the candidate scored a Phase III win in March of this year.
Novartis’ drug targets prostate-specific membrane antigen, or PSMA, which is commonly found in metastatic prostate cancer.
There are other players out there as well. Germany’s ITM raised $109 million in loan financing back in April and the biotech Aktis secured a $72 million round. RayzeBio has been the biggest recent winner, however, landing a $258 million Series C in June.