Kineta Chronic Pain Inks License Deal with Genentech for Over $359 Million

Financial Deal

Seattle-based Kineta Chronic Pain, a subsidiary of Kineta, signed an exclusive option and license deal with Genentech, a Roche company. The two companies will develop Kineta’s alpha9/alpha10 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) antagonists to treat chronic pain.

Genentech is paying an undisclosed upfront payment. Kineta is eligible for milestone payments up to $359 million. Kineta is also eligible for high single-to-low double-digit royalties on sales of certain products that might come out of the collaboration. Genentech will hold the option to license assets that come out of the deal. If it does, it will be responsible for further development and commercialization.

“We are very excited to collaborate with Genentech as they are one of the world’s leading biotech companies and an ideal strategic partner for Kineta,” said Shawn Iodonato, Kineta’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “There is a tremendous unmet patient need to develop more effective, safer and non-addictive therapies for the many people who suffer from chronic pain. By collaborating with Genentech, we expect to accelerate the development of our promising novel non-opioid therapy for patients.”

Alpha9/alpha10 nAChR is a target for treating chronic neuropathic pain. Preclinical studies have shown that molecules that target the receptor result in reduced pain in animal models. They also have shown disease-modifying effects that include decreased inflammation and nerve protection.

The receptor is only found in the peripheral nervous system. It is not found in the brain and spinal cord. As a result, the company expects there will be fewer side effects than are usually observed with opioid use.

Iadonato told GeekWire, “The pain space has not had a lot of new and innovative therapies in it. Most of the things that we have to treat pain, aside from opioids, are really just repurposed drugs. We see this as an opportunity to block pain at the site of the injury, wherever that may be, without having potentially those addictive, tolerizing, altering qualities—effects on cognition and coordination and respiration—that you see in opioids.”

The drugs they’ve evaluated so far have side effects, but those side effects appear to be positive, such as decreased inflammation, and nerve protection. Iodanato told GeekWire, “Currently, pain is really just considered a symptom of disease, but to be able to treat pain like a disease condition and to have drugs that have disease-modifying activity in pain—it would be novel, and it would be really quite different than how we’ve treated pain in the past.”

In addition to its non-opioid drug development, Kineta is working in immuno-oncology. On April 5, the company presented new data on its RIG-I immuno-oncology program at the Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology: Cancer Immunotherapy Combinations. In preclinical studies, the company’s small molecule RIG-I agonists showed significant tumor growth reduction in two mouse models.

“These data demonstrate that Kineta’s small molecule RIG-I agonists activate the innate immune response, induce ICD in tumor cells in vivo and elicit an anti-tumor memory T-cell response controlling tumor growth,” said Kristin Bedard, Kineta Immuno-oncology’s chief scientific officer, in a statement. “Demonstrating significant tumor regression in multiple tumor models and selecting additional drug candidates from the lead chemical series are significant advancements for the program.”

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