Roivant unveils latest spinout as Pfizer entrusts JAK1/TYK2 to Priovant
In November, Pfizer disclosed it’s spun out the Phase II dual JAK1/TYK2 inhibitor to a startup formed in collaboration with an unnamed, experienced partner.
We now know who the partner is. And as Pfizer and Roivant officially take the wraps off Priovant Therapeutics, the companies reveal that they have started two registrational trials of the drug, brepocitinib, as part of a broader plan to develop a big, first-in-class franchise spanning multiple orphan and specialty autoimmune diseases.
Ben Zimmer, a seasoned member of the Roivant team, is leading the venture as CEO.
Pfizer licensed commercial rights for both oral and topical brepocitinib in the US and Japan to Priovant. The small biotech also scored rights to a TYK2 inhibitor dubbed ropsacitinib.
Priovant is gunning for two initial indications: a Phase III study is testing oral brepocitinib in dermatomyositis, an immune-mediated disease where patients experience skin rash and muscle weakness, with higher risks of lung disease and heart failure; and it’s also enrolling a Phase IIb study in systemic lupus erythematosus.
Ruth Ann Vleugels, director of the Connective Tissue Disease Clinics and Autoimmune Skin Diseases Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, highlighted how dual TYK2/JAK1 inhibition “may result in superior blockade of type I interferon, a key cytokine family implicated in dermatomyositis pathogenesis.”
Ever since its founding by Vivek Ramaswamy eight years ago, Roivant has tried to build a business on flipping drugs from Big Pharma through a network of “vant” startups. And despite some spectacular early flops, in-licensing remains a critical component of current CEO Matt Gline’s vision for Roivant to become a new kind of pharma — a plan that Pfizer could clearly get behind as CSO Mikael Dolsten praised Roivant’s “track record in late-stage inflammation and immunology drug development.”
The partners didn’t disclose any financials around the deal or how much it’s dedicating to Priovant; Pfizer is retaining a 25% stake in Priovant.