United Therapeutics Martine Rothblatt has joined the pack of admirers backing one of the industry’s most intriguing biotech unicorns.
Just a few months after gaining a whopping $438 million round on a $12 billion valuation — with little hard data to show so far — San Diego-based Samumed is outlicensing an early-stage drug for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis to United for $10 million in cash and up to $340 million in milestones in a heavily back-ended deal.
In the deal, United subsidiary Lung Biotechnology has the rights to develop SM04646, a Wnt pathway inhibitor, for the US and Canadian markets. Lung will now take over the R&D work needed to eventually seek an approval in North America — if it gets that far.
United’s upfront amounts to little more than tip money for Samumed at this point. The 10-year-old biotech has focused considerable attention on its regenerative med work, and CEO Osman Kibar has not been reluctant to promote its work.
“We’re sitting on a goldmine, and this is only the tip of the iceberg,” Kibar said recently.
Rothblatt — no slouch either at talking up her prospects — gave a thumbs up to Kibar in the deal.
“I’ve been impressed with Samumed’s exhaustive work on the pleiotropic Wnt pathway from the time I met Dr. Kibar at this year’s Cura Foundation conference on regenerative medicine, held at the Vatican,” said Rothblatt. “Our months of due diligence have energized our belief in SM04646’s fibrosis-modulating properties, and hence unique potential for addressing IPF.”
Image: Martine Rothblatt. AP IMAGES
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