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.”

Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; and more

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL lands FDA ap­proval for he­mo­phil­ia B gene ther­a­py, sets $3.5M list price

The FDA has approved the world’s first gene therapy for hemophilia B, ushering into the market a treatment that’s historic in both what it promises to do and how much it will cost.

CSL will be marketing the drug, Hemgenix, at a list price of $3.5 million — which sets a new record for the most expensive single-use gene therapy in the US.

In a statement provided to Endpoints News, the Australian company noted that the current costs of treating people with moderate to severe hemophilia B can be significant over a lifetime. By some estimates, healthcare systems could spend more than $20 million per person.

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Image: Shutterstock

MIT re­searchers re­veal DNA "Paste" tech be­hind lat­est gene edit­ing start­up

MIT scientists have developed a tool that they say can insert large gene sequences where they want in the genome.

In a paper published Thursday in Nature Biotechnology, MIT fellows Omar Abudayyeh, Jonathan Gootenberg and colleagues detail a technology they call PASTE, which they say can potentially be used to insert long strands of DNA and treat genetic diseases caused by many different mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare eye disorder that causes blindness.

Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Biggest drug com­pa­nies halt­ed Twit­ter ad buys af­ter Lil­ly in­sulin spoof

Almost all of the drug industry’s biggest advertisers cut their spending on Twitter to zero or near-zero over the last two weeks amid worries about impersonation of their brands by pranksters and the future of the social media company.

Among 18 of the biggest pharmaceutical advertisers in the US market, 12 cut their Twitter ad spending to nothing for the week beginning Nov. 14, according to Pathmatics, which tracks data on prescription drug ad spending as well as general corporate advertising. The list of drugmakers cutting spending to zero includes Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and others.

Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Up­dat­ed: No Seagen here: 'Do more' means a small $1.35B pur­chase of Ima­go for Mer­ck

Merck is making an acquisition, the Big Pharma announced before Monday’s opening bell. No, Seagen is not entering the fold, as had been speculated for quarters.

Folding under Merck’s wings will be Pfizer-backed Imago BioSciences. For nearly a year, Merck CEO Rob Davis has been saying the pharma giant needs to “do more” on the business development front after its 2021 $11.5 billion acquisition of Acceleron.

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Andrew Phillips, Nexo Therapeutics CEO

Scoop: Ver­sant, NEA launch new biotech helmed by ex-CEO of pro­tein de­grad­er C4 Ther­a­peu­tics

Long-time biotech venture firms Versant and New Enterprise Associates are backing a new startup run by former C4 Therapeutics chief executive Andrew Phillips.

The fledgling biotech has raised at least $30 million so far, according to paperwork filed with the SEC this week. The round could balloon to $60 million.

Phillips, who left protein degradation startup C4 in 2020 to be a managing director at Cormorant Asset Management, is running the show of the new venture as president, the SEC filing outlines. He also served as interim CEO of Cormorant-backed and Hansoh Pharmaceutical-partnered Blossom Bioscience last year.

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J&J's Spra­va­to pulls a PhI­II win against Sero­quel XR in treat­ment-re­sis­tant de­pres­sion

A day before Thanksgiving, J&J’s Janssen has a new cut of Phase III Spravato data to be grateful for.

The pharma giant announced on Wednesday that its nasal spray, also known as esketamine, beat extended-release quetiapine, previously sold by AstraZeneca as Seroquel XR, in treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Of 676 adults, a significantly higher number of patients on Spravato were able to achieve remission and avoid relapse after 32 weeks, according to J&J.

Dermavant Sciences' first consumer TV ad for its Vtama psoriasis med shows people ready for a new topical treatment.

Roivant’s Der­ma­vant de­buts first-ever TV com­mer­cial for pso­ri­a­sis cream Vta­ma

Dermavant Sciences has been marketing its first product, psoriasis med Vtama, to dermatologists for months, but on Tuesday it rolled out its first consumer campaign. The debut DTC effort including a streaming TV commercial encourages patients to a “Topical Uprising” in a nod to Vtama being a topical cream.

In the new commercial, a swell of people discards scarves and jacket coverings, gathering in the street to converge on a pharmacy to demand a steroid-free prescription. A moment of levity follows when a pharmacist says, “You know you can just talk to your doctor, right?” The gathered crowds collectively says, “Oh.”

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FDA preps for DMD drug gener­ics as Sarep­ta has yet to fin­ish its con­fir­ma­to­ry tri­al

The FDA typically releases guidance to help generic drug manufacturers develop new copycats of small molecule drugs, oftentimes in preparation for a brand name product’s patents or exclusivity to expire.

This week, FDA released such bioequivalence guidance for any generic drugmakers looking to take on Sarepta’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) drug Exondys 51 (eteplirsen), even though the drug’s sponsor has yet to convert the accelerated approval to a full approval, showing clinical benefit.