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.”

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Dr. David Hung and Michelle Doig are no strangers to the SPAC phenomenon. As Founder and CEO of Nuvation Bio, a biotech company tackling some of the greatest unmet needs in oncology, Dr. Hung recently took the company public in one of this year’s biggest SPAC related deals. And as Partner at Omega Funds, Doig not only led and syndicated Nuvation Bio’s Series A, but is now also President of the newly formed, Omega-sponsored, Omega Alpha SPAC (Nasdaq: OMEG; oversubscribed $138m IPO priced January 6, 2021).

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Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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