Pfizer (PFE) Enters Strategic Research Collaboration & License Agreement with Kineta Immuno-Oncology to Develop New Cancer Immunotherapies

December 17, 2018 8:08 AM

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) today announced that it has entered into a strategic research collaboration with Kineta Immuno-Oncology, LLC (KIO), a subsidiary of Kineta, Inc. to develop RIG-I agonist immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer. The research collaboration and license agreement grants to Pfizer the exclusive rights to KIO's RIG-I screening platform and related compounds and technologies. The companies will collaborate to develop and test small molecule agonists that target RIG-I, an innate immunostimulatory pathway that can elicit immunogenic cell death (ICD) in tumors, providing both direct tumor cell killing and enhanced anti-tumor immune responses.

In preclinical models, Kineta's RIG-I agonists have demonstrated complete tumor regression and an increase in tumor-specific T cells when given as a monotherapy. Additionally, the compounds have demonstrated synergistic effects when used in combination with other immunotherapies like checkpoint inhibitors. Kineta's proprietary approach is part of an internally developed discovery program focused on innate immune drug targets in cancer. The lead program is focused on the RIG-I pathway, which is differentiated from other innate immune-targeted immunotherapies as its compounds are small molecule drugs with the potential for oral and systemic administration.

"This alliance will enable Kineta and Pfizer to leverage each company's expertise to accelerate the development of our RIG-I immuno-oncology program," said Kineta CEO, Shawn Iadonato. "Pfizer is an excellent partner for Kineta's technology, with a strong commitment to oncology and outstanding development capabilities. We are very enthusiastic about this new cancer immunotherapy collaboration, which represents the second major partnering transaction for Kineta this year."

Dr. Robert Abraham, Senior Vice President and Group Head of Pfizer's Oncology Research & Development Group said: "Therapies that trigger activation of the innate immune response in tumors have significant potential to expand the number of patients who will benefit from cancer immunotherapy, especially if they can be administered systemically. Kineta has taken a promising, differentiated approach to the discovery of RIG-I agonists, and we are looking forward to collaborating with Kineta and jointly developing these RIG-I-targeted agents into medicines with potentially unique immune-stimulating properties."

Under the terms of the agreement, KIO will receive a $15 million upfront payment and will be eligible to receive up to $505 million in potential research, development and sales milestone payments. Additionally, KIO is eligible to receive tiered royalties on net sales. Pfizer will fund RIG-I target-related research conducted by Kineta for an initial period of three years, after which Pfizer will be responsible for further development and commercialization of product candidates.

Torreya acted as exclusive financial advisor to Kineta on this transaction.

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