Kinaset Therapeutics Debuts in the Asthma Market with $40 Million Financing
Kinaset Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology start-up, has launched with $40 million in venture financing with a syndicate of 5AM Ventures, Atlas Venture, and Gimv to develop a drug that could make life easier for people with severe asthma. Kinaset had initially licensed the drug (KN-002) from Vectura Group, a British company that primarily focused on respiratory diseases but recently pivoted to launch its own contract development and manufacturing organization. The company intends to enroll healthy volunteers and patients with severe eosinophilic and non-eosinophilic asthma in a phase 1/1b scheduled to begin in early 2021.
Asthma is a chronic disease that constricts, swells, and inflames airways in the lungs and is responsible for affecting more than 339 million people globally. Approximately 10% of the patients with severe asthma experience frequent exacerbations and defective lung functions, affecting their quality of life. Treatments include inhaled and oral corticosteroids to injected biologics. However, these drugs don’t work for everyone, and Kinaset Therapeutics is bringing a pan-JAK inhibitor to the market, which is designed to help patients regardless of how their disease is caused.
Thomas B. King, chairman of the board, said, “I am excited to be part of Kinaset Therapeutics and their plans to deliver a next-generation therapeutic for the severe asthma population. The highly experienced management team and board coupled with the exclusive global license from Vectura provide a great springboard for the launch of Kinaset. Vectura’s profile as a world-class CDMO with multiple approved inhaled therapeutics makes them a trusted partner as we move KN-002 to our upcoming clinical trial.”
Kinaset, with help from Vectura, will provide patients with severe non-eosinophilic asthma, a small inhalable molecule in the form of KN-002, and offer medicine for patients with eosinophilic asthma. This is in stark contrast to available treatments, which promote the use of antibodies by injections.
Robert Clarke, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, and one of the co-founders of Kinaset Therapeutics, said, “Our goal is to build Kinaset into a leading respiratory therapeutics company focused on patients starting with KN-002. Severe asthmatics continue to suffer from the limited availability of safe and effective treatment options. We believe that our inhaled pan-JAK inhibitor, KN-002, has the potential to be a best-in-class therapeutic for this population. In addition, KN-002 could be a less-invasive and more cost-effective alternative to currently approved parenteral biologicals used in the treatment of severe asthma.”
Competition in the Market
Several giant biopharmaceuticals have employed JAK inhibitors in asthma and various other diseases to achieve monumental success. For instance, Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent beat analyst estimates as sales in the US alone hit $303 million in the first quarter, as prescription use jumped alone by 18%. Other competitors in this market used in treating eosinophilic asthma include GlaxoSmithKline’s Nucala and AstraZeneca’s Fasenra, which are not cost-effective, and administering it to the patient might pose challenges. Kinaset Therapeutics intends to bank on these shortfalls and navigate the crowded market by making their drug cheaper and accessible to all.
The company further believes they can repurpose KN-002 for other respiratory diseases such as pulmonary arterial hypertension and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis as an optimistic Clark says, “We’re also looking at other mechanisms within the respiratory space that we believe could pair well with KN-002”. If they can achieve this feat, the company will be looking to rake in the millions as their competitors soon.
By T. Chakraborty, Ph.D.
Editor: Rajaneesh K. Gopinath, Ph.D.
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