Nima Farzan, Kinnate CEO

Ki­nase in­hibitor spe­cial­ist Kin­nate launch­es Shang­hai sub­sidiary with $35M to mar­ket its pro­grams in Chi­na

A lit­tle more than five months af­ter go­ing pub­lic with a $276 mil­lion IPO, Kin­nate Bio­phar­ma is back rais­ing mon­ey — this time for a new sub­sidiary launch­ing in Chi­na.

The yet-to-be named com­pa­ny is launch­ing Thurs­day with a $35 mil­lion Se­ries A round, Kin­nate said, and it will be a joint ven­ture with some of Kin­nate’s pre­vi­ous in­vestors. Or­biMed Asia Part­ners, Or­biMed Pri­vate In­vest­ments and Fore­site Cap­i­tal are all help­ing es­tab­lish the com­pa­ny, with Kin­nate tak­ing the role as ma­jor­i­ty stake­hold­er.

Head­quar­tered in Shang­hai, the new­co will fo­cus on mar­ket­ing Kin­nate’s small mol­e­cule ki­nase in­hibitors in main­land Chi­na, Hong Kong, Macau and Tai­wan. Wenn Sun, the founder and pres­i­dent of the ge­nom­ic da­ta com­pa­ny Pre­ci­sion Med­i­cine Asia, has been ap­point­ed as ex­ec­u­tive chair.

CEO Ni­ma Farzan told End­points News that Kin­nate de­cid­ed to set up a whole new com­pa­ny for this ef­fort, rather than mar­ket the drugs them­selves at Kin­nate, be­cause of their pre­vi­ous deal­ings with Or­biMed. The con­nec­tions gained there en­abled the launch of an en­ti­ty that can more close­ly fo­cus on the more unique Chi­nese mar­ket.

“There’s dif­fer­ent rates of can­cer in dif­fer­ent pop­u­la­tions; for ex­am­ple, Chi­na has a very sub­stan­tial num­ber of lung can­cer epi­demi­ol­o­gy,” Farzan told End­points. “It’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly a dif­fer­ent type of can­cer, they just have more lung can­cer.”

Kin­nate has yet to hit the clin­ic for any of its pro­grams, though they’re on track to file an IND for their lead RAF in­hibitor some­time be­fore the end of June. The new joint ven­ture is ex­pect­ed to put this pro­gram, dubbed KIN-2787, at the top of its to-do list for Chi­nese com­mer­cial­iza­tion, much like Kin­nate it­self is do­ing glob­al­ly.

With re­gards to this pro­gram, Farzan said it would be tar­get­ing the Class II and III BRAF mu­ta­tions typ­i­cal­ly pre­sent­ing more fre­quent­ly in lung can­cers. RAF in­hibitors tar­get­ing Class I mu­ta­tions gen­er­al­ly skew more to­ward melanoma, which are more preva­lent in the US and al­ready have seen ap­proved drugs. There aren’t any drugs ap­proved for the lat­ter mu­ta­tion type, how­ev­er.

KIN-2787 is be­ing de­vel­oped for both lung can­cer and melanoma, as well as oth­er sol­id tu­mors, and pre­clin­i­cal da­ta will be pre­sent­ed next month as AS­CO. If every­thing goes well with the IND, Kin­nate says it’s plan­ning to launch a Phase I study in pa­tients with ad­vanced or metasta­t­ic sol­id tu­mors har­bor­ing BRAF gene al­ter­ations this year, eval­u­at­ing the can­di­date as a monother­a­py.

The sub­sidiary will al­so fo­cus on mar­ket­ing an­oth­er Kin­nate pro­gram in greater Chi­na, an FGFR in­hibitor can­di­date called KIN-3248. This pro­gram is be­ing de­vel­oped to treat in­tra­hep­at­ic cholan­gio­car­ci­no­ma, a can­cer of the bile ducts in the liv­er, and urothe­lial car­ci­no­ma, a can­cer of the blad­der lin­ing.

Farzan not­ed that Chi­na has not ap­proved any FGFR in­hibitors and hopes the Kin­nate sub­sidiary can pur­sue first-line treat­ment with KIN-3248.

There’s one oth­er un­named Kin­nate can­di­date in­volved where the new­co will have an ex­clu­sive li­cense for the re­gion. The com­pa­ny will al­so be able to de­vel­op oth­er pro­grams from the Kin­nate pipeline in the area, as well as can­di­dates from oth­er com­pa­nies in Chi­na and else­where.

Thurs­day’s launch is a step Farzan de­cid­ed to take even though none of Kin­nate’s pro­grams have been test­ed in hu­mans. But he said he’s con­fi­dent in the can­di­dates be­cause the modal­i­ties and tar­gets have been high­ly val­i­dat­ed with oth­er drugs.

“When you look at BRAF mu­ta­tions, these are clear onco­genic dri­vers and drugs that have been ef­fec­tive against these mu­ta­tions have shown clear clin­i­cal ad­van­tages,” Farzan said. “When you look at FGFR, sim­i­lar­ly val­i­dat­ed tar­get, there’s al­ready li­censed drugs pro­tec­tive against that tar­get … and then the pre­clin­i­cal da­ta that we’ve gen­er­at­ed does seem to be, when you look at oth­er drugs in this class, to be rel­a­tive­ly pre­dic­tive.”

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.

Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Time for round 2: Il­lu­mi­na-backed VC snags $325M for its next fund

Illumina Ventures closed off its second investment fund with a total commitment of $325 million, offering fresh fuel to back a slate of startups that have already included a smorgasbord of companies, covering everything from diagnostics to biotech drug development and genomics.

Fund II brings the total investment under Illumina Ventures’ oversight to $560 million, which has been focused on early-stage companies. And it has a transatlantic portfolio that includes SQZ, Twist and Encoded Therapeutics.

Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Raju Mohan, Ventyx Biosciences CEO

Months af­ter a mam­moth raise, Ven­tyx Bio­sciences dips back in­to ven­ture well

Several months after emerging from what CEO Raju Mohan called “quiet mode” with a mammoth $114 million raise, Ventyx Biosciences is now making its plans for the clinic loud and clear.

The California-based immune modulation player kicked the week off with a $51 million Series B, while also naming some key hires ahead of its big clinical push.

The CMO slot is going to Jörn Drappa, former CMO at Viela Bio before it was bought out by Horizon Therapeutics earlier this year. The AstraZeneca vet stayed on at Horizon for a while as executive VP of R&D before making the jump to Ventyx.