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2023-05-08| Partnerships

Boehringer, Kinoxis Ink $181 Million Pact To Target Oxytocin Receptors

by Joy Lin
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German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim is partnering with University of Sydney spinout Kinoxis Therapeutics to develop oxytocin-targeting treatments for people living with psychiatric disorders. 

The collaboration is estimated to be worth up to $181 million ($A273 million) in payments, while Kinoxis could reap royalties on potential product sales. It will also bring in significant funding for the University of Sydney’s School of Chemistry, School of Psychology, and the Brain and Mind Center that will be closely collaborating with Boehringer and Kinoxis. 

Related article: Boehringer to Leverage RetinAI’s AI Tech to Further Geographic Atrophy Research 

Small Molecules that Target Oxytocin Receptors

Kinoxis focuses on developing chemical compounds that target the oxytocin receptor. These compounds were developed under research led by Kinoxis co-founder Professor Michael Kassiou of the Drug Discovery Initiative and School of Chemistry. 

The therapeutic potential of these compounds are being evaluated by a team led by Kinoxis Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder Associate Professor Michael Bowen of the School of Psychology and Brain and Mind Center. 

“More than three million Australians suffer from illnesses that impair social functioning. The oxytocin receptors in the brain have emerged as an attractive drug target but they have been intractable with small molecules,” said Professor Kassiou.

“More than 10 years ago my group began investigating the chemistry and pharmacology relating to the oxytocin receptor. We have discovered several series of small molecules, now licensed to Kinoxis, that have allowed us to target the oxytocin receptor in ways not previously possible.” 

Kinoxis’ lead compound, KNX100, is currently enrolling patients in a Phase 1 trial for the management of opioid withdrawal symptoms. According to Kinoxis, KNX100 has shown promising preclinical results in animal models of cocaine, methamphetamine, nicotine, and alcohol use disorders, as well as models of agitation and aggression. The drug has drawn attention from the US National Institutes of Health Helping to End Addiction Long-Term, or the NIH HEAL Initiative, which awarded $4.6 million over a four year span to Kinoxis to advance its preclinical and clinical development. 

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