2023-02-03| Licensing

Karuna Licenses Goldfinch’s Mood Disorder Candidates For Potential $535 Million

by Joy Lin
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Boston-based Karuna Therapeutics is putting a potential $535 million on the line to license Goldfinch Bio’s investigational transient receptor potential canonical 4 and 5 (TRPC4/5) channel candidates, including their lead clinical-stage candidate, GFB-887. 

These pipeline candidates will be evaluated as potential treatments for various psychiatric and neurological conditions, starting with GFB-887 for mood and anxiety disorders, said Karuna. More on the planned development of GFB-887 will be revealed in the second half of 2023, the company added. 

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Goldfinch Could Earn $520 Million in Milestones

Under the terms of the deal, Goldfinch Bio will receive an upfront sum of $15 million, while it could receive up to $520 million in milestone payments for each TRPC4/5 candidate, of which $410 million are related to regulatory and commercial milestones. Goldfinch could also reap a flat low-single-digit royalty on global net sales of each product. 

GFB-887 was originally developed to treat kidney disease. In February 2022, Goldfinch revealed mixed results for the candidate in a Phase 2 trial in two indications. In the study, GFB-887 was shown to reduce protein levels in patients’ urine in focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) but not in diabetic nephropathy. 

Karuna’s move to repurpose GFB-887 as a psychiatric medicine may be based on research that suggested potential in targeting brain TRPCs. TRPC 4 and 5 are highly expressed in the cortex and amygdala, two important areas associated with regulating anxiety. It is thought that using small molecule antagonists of TRPC4/5 may reduce anxiety. The approach has resulted in at least one clinical collaboration, such as an ongoing partnership between Hydra Biosciences and Boehringer Ingelheim.

“We are incredibly excited to expand and diversify our development efforts and are encouraged about the potential of TRPC4/5 inhibitors to treat both mood and anxiety disorders based on pre-clinical and clinical data demonstrating anxiolytic and antidepressant properties of these inhibitors,” said Steve Paul, M.D., who heads R&D at Goldfinch, adding that GFB-887 has already demonstrated a “compelling safety profile” in non-clinical and clinical studies. 

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