Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, has agreed to exclusively license and develop Kineta's α9/α10 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) antagonists as targets for a non-opioid treatment for chronic pain, through a collaboration that Kineta said today could generate for it up to $359 million-plus.

The α9/α10 nAChR antagonists could emerge as novel targets for treating chronic neuropathic pain, Kineta said, citing preclinical data showing that investigational compounds that specifically target the receptor reduced pain behaviors in animal models and demonstrated disease-modifying effects, including reduced inflammation and nerve protection at the site of injury.

“The α9α10 nAChR represents a mechanistically distinctive target for modifying the disease course of chronic pain. Presently available pain medications act on a limited number of pharmacological targets that treat, but do not prevent, disease progression,” University of Utah researchers Baldomera M. Olivera, Ph.D., and J. Michael McIntosh, M.D., and colleagues, concluded in a study published last year in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

According to Kineta, the α9/α10 nAChR antagonists are derived from the venom of the Conus regius, a small cone snail native to the Caribbean Sea—and could effectively treat most types of chronic pain, including radiculopathy, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), and diabetic neuropathy.

The novel target is not believed to be expressed in the central nervous system but the peripheral nervous system—thus may lead to a safer therapy that is nonaddictive and nontolerizing, Kineta and Genentech reason.

Through its subsidiary Kineta Chronic Pain, Kineta entered into an exclusive option and license agreement with Genentech. The Roche subsidiary has agreed to pay Kineta an undisclosed up-front payment, as well as up to $359 million in payments tied to achieving development and commercialization milestones. Kineta said it is also eligible to receive high single- to low double-digit royalties on sales of certain products resulting from the collaboration. 

In return, Genentech has an option to license assets developed during the collaboration. If Genentech exercises that option, it would be responsible for further development and commercialization.

“We are excited to join forces with Kineta to develop potentially life-changing medicines for people with chronic pain conditions,” James Sabry, M.D., Ph.D., SVP and global head of Genentech Partnering, said in a statement

Added Kineta CEO, Shawn Iadonato, Ph.D.: “There is a tremendous unmet patient need to develop more effective, safer, and nonaddictive 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.”

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