Novartis has signed an agreement to acquire Chinook Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company based in Seattle, Washington, with two high-value late-stage drugs in development for rare and severe chronic kidney disease.
The agreed deal, which is subject to customary closing terms, is in line with Novartis’ strategy to focus on innovative medicines and will expand its kidney portfolio, complementing existing lines.
“IgA Nephropathy is a devastating disease that mostly affects young adults and has the potential to lead to dialysis or a kidney transplant. We are excited about this unique opportunity to address one of the most challenging public health problems, with the potential to provide patients with much needed additional treatment options,” said Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis.
“We look forward to closing the deal, a smooth transition for Chinook employees and welcoming them to Novartis.”
Pipeline Chinook Therapeutics includes two late-stage assets in clinical development to treat immunoglobulin A (IgAN) nephropathy, a rare, progressive kidney disease that primarily affects young adults and currently has no targeted treatment options. As many as three in 10 patients develop kidney failure and dialysis within 10 years.
Atrasentan, an oral endothelin A receptor antagonist (ERA), currently in phase 3 development for IgAN with important reads expected in Q4 2023, has shown a significant reduction in proteinuria. Atrasentan is also in early-stage development for another rare kidney disease.
Zigakibart (BION-1301) is an anti-APRIL monoclonal antibody that is administered subcutaneously; Phase 3 trials at IgAN are expected to start in Q3 2023.
Chinook Therapeutics has experience in modeling and understanding kidney disease and a promising pilot plan for treating a number of severe kidney conditions.
Novartis and Chinook Therapeutics transaction details
Under the agreed terms, which were unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, Novartis will acquire Chinook Therapeutics for a total value of up to $3.5 billion in the transaction involving the merger of Chinook Therapeutics and a newly formed Novartis subsidiary. .
Common shareholders of Chinook Therapeutics will receive $3.2 billion ($40.00 per share) in cash at closing, plus contingent value rights of up to $0.3 billion ($4 per share), payable in cash upon certain regulatory milestones. . The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2023, subject to customary closing conditions, including Chinook shareholder approval and receipt of regulatory approvals. Until the deal closes, Chinook Therapeutics will continue to operate as a separate and independent company.
IgAN is a rare, progressive kidney disease that mostly affects young adults and currently has no targeted treatment options. In IgAN, the autoimmune reaction against the abnormal form of IgA results in the formation of immune complexes that are stored in the kidney. These immune complexes trigger inflammation and kidney damage leading to progressive loss of kidney function.
In the US, IgAN affects up to 21 people per million a year, with a higher incidence in Asian populations. IgAN is the most common cause of kidney failure in Caucasian young adults.
With increasing damage to the kidneys, proteinuria (protein in the urine) and hematuria (blood in the urine) may occur. IgAN patients with higher levels of protein in their urine (≥1 g/d) are at increased risk of disease progression, with approximately 30% developing renal failure within 10 years. The availability of new treatments that target different disease pathways is changing the treatment landscape for patients with IgAN and offers up the prospect that patients with IgAN do not develop end-stage renal disease in their lifetime.
Atrasentan and zigakibart
Atrasentan has shown a significant reduction in proteinuria compared to baseline in a phase 2 study, with good tolerability, including a hepatic safety profile. Zigakibart is a targeted biologic therapy with the potential to address the root causes of IgAN, abnormal galactose-deficient IgA production, and maintain kidney function.
Interim phase 1/2 data show an impressive reduction in proteinuria compared to baseline. As a targeted therapy, zigakibart is expected to have a better tolerability profile than more broadly acting lymphocyte depletion therapies.