Nima Farzan, Kinnate Biopharma CEO

Kin­nate en­gi­neers $24M deal to win con­trol of Chi­na joint ven­ture back from Or­biMed, Fore­site

When Kin­nate Bio­phar­ma teamed up with Or­biMed and Fore­site to launch a joint ven­ture to bring its ki­nase in­hibitors to the Chi­nese mar­ket in 2021, the biotech high­light­ed how Or­biMed Asia Part­ners, which led the $35 mil­lion Se­ries A, brought “tremen­dous ex­per­tise and con­nec­tions in Chi­na.”

Less than two years lat­er, the in­vestors are get­ting out of the pic­ture.

Kin­nate is buy­ing back Or­biMed and Fore­site’s own­er­ship stakes in the Shang­hai-based joint ven­ture, which it’s since named Kin­njiu Bio­phar­ma. In to­tal, it’s pay­ing the firms $24 mil­lion — a mix of cash and Kin­nate stock. Both firms re­main on Kin­nate’s board of di­rec­tors.

Af­ter the pub­li­ca­tion of this sto­ry, a Kin­nate spokesper­son told End­points News that the com­pa­ny will now in­te­grate plans in the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of Chi­na, Hong Kong, Macau and Tai­wan in­to its glob­al de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for its pipeline.

“The biotech mar­ket dy­nam­ics in Chi­na have changed, and with this trans­ac­tion we see greater val­ue in re­gain­ing con­trol of both as­sets and cash,” the spokesper­son wrote.

At the time of Kin­njiu’s launch, Kin­nate not­ed it would be a ma­jor­i­ty share­hold­er. The spokesper­son did not an­swer a ques­tion on how big of a stake Or­biMed and Fore­site pre­vi­ous­ly owned. Fol­low­ing the deal, Kin­nate will keep Kin­njiu’s cash, in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty, key per­son­nel and the le­gal en­ti­ty struc­ture.

“We be­lieve re­tain­ing the Kin­njiu struc­ture will en­able Kin­nate to con­tin­ue to in­vest in in­no­va­tion and clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of its ki­nase in­hibitors in the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of Chi­na, Hong Kong, Macau and Tai­wan,” CEO Ni­ma Farzan said in a state­ment.

Farzan pre­vi­ous­ly told End­points that Kin­nate de­cid­ed to set up a whole new com­pa­ny in or­der to close­ly fo­cus on the unique as­pects of the Chi­nese mar­ket, where rates of cer­tain types of can­cer are dif­fer­ent from oth­er places. Kin­nate is fo­cused on new gen­er­a­tions of ki­nase in­hibitors that tar­get ge­net­i­cal­ly de­fined sub­sets of pa­tients, es­pe­cial­ly those who may have nat­ur­al or ac­quired re­sis­tance against cur­rent ther­a­pies.

Since then, Kin­nate has put its lead drug, a RAF in­hibitor dubbed exarafenib, in­to a Phase I tri­al.

In the re­lease, the biotech added that it’s al­so opened ad­di­tion­al sites for the Phase I tri­al in main­land Chi­na and Tai­wan, with plans to start a sep­a­rate Phase I for KIN-3248, a pan-FGFR in­hibitor, in Tai­wan.

Ed­i­tor’s note: Sto­ry up­dat­ed with com­ment from Kin­nate.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Cedric Ververken, Confo Therapeutics CEO

Dai­ichi Sankyo inks $183M dis­cov­ery deal with GPCR biotech for CNS tar­get

Belgian biotech Confo Therapeutics has landed $183 million, plus potential royalties, in a drug-discovery deal with Daiichi Sankyo.

Early Thursday, Confo Therapeutics put out word of the deal that will be focused on small molecule antagonists to go after an undisclosed target that the company says is associated with CNS diseases.

Confo CEO Cedric Ververken told Endpoints News that Daiichi originally reached out to learn about the biotech’s technology. He added that Confo, founded in 2015, will use its platform to drug a GPCR target that Daiichi has struggled with internally.

Dif­fu­sion to hand Nas­daq spot to EIP Phar­ma for PhI­Ib de­men­tia study of ex-Ver­tex drug

One of the more than a dozen bidders for Diffusion Pharmaceuticals’ spot on Nasdaq has prevailed.

Boston biotech EIP Pharma will merge with Diffusion in an all-stock deal, with plans to start a Phase IIb clinical trial in the coming months in a common form of dementia with no approved treatments. The combined company will be renamed CervoMed.

The nine-year-old privately-held EIP is working on a former Vertex drug that it will test in a 160-person Phase IIb in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies, or DLB. The National Institute on Aging is expected to fund that trial with a $21 million grant. With the reverse merger, slated for closing in the middle of this year, EIP will be funded through that readout in the second half of 2024. EIP’s equity and debt holders will own about 77.25% of the combined company.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Hugo Peris, Spiral Therapeutics CEO

Hear­ing-fo­cused biotech grabs trio of pro­grams from Oton­o­my's fire sale

Otonomy may be shutting down, but the lessons learned there will live on at another biotech working on new treatments for hearing loss.

San Francisco-based Spiral Therapeutics has bought certain assets related to three of Otonomy’s programs, ranging from data, patent rights, and know-how to inventory. That includes data around Otonomy’s twice-failed lead program, OTO-104 (Otividex), a sustained-exposure formulation of dexamethasone.

Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

Phar­maron ex­pand­ing Liv­er­pool man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty with a $186M+ price tag

Liverpool may be known for rock and roll and premier league football, but the China-based contract manufacturer Pharmaron is looking to make it a bigger hub for cell and gene therapy manufacturing.

As part of Pharmaron’s further commitment to Merseyside county, it plans to build an 8,000-square-meter facility, or around 86,000 square feet, which includes a boost to the manufacturing capacity of 3,500 square meters, or 37,600 square feet. The price tag for the expansion will be £151 million ($186 million), with Pharmaron receiving a grant from the UK Government’s Life Sciences Innovation Manufacturing Fund (LSIMF).