Aurinia Pharmaceuticals has acquired two new pipeline assets to bolster its rare autoimmune and kidney-related disease portfolio.
The assets are AUR200, a recombinant Fc protein that acts on B cell-activating factor and a proliferation-inducing ligand (BAFF and APRIL), and a novel peptide therapeutic, AUR300.
Aurinia gained rights to AUR200 by acquiring all the common stock of private company Thunderbolt Pharma.
AUR200 can potentially hinder BAFF and APRIL, which induce B-cell survival and differentiation and play a key role in the pathogenesis of some autoimmune and nephrology aliments.
Aurinia made a total upfront payment of $750,000 to Thunderbolt stakeholders for the acquisition.
Furthermore, Aurinia will oversee the regulatory milestones on investigational new drug (IND) acceptance by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other regulatory authority in the future.
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Thunderbolt shareholders are also eligible to get low single-digit royalty payments on net product sales in the future.
AUR200 is presently in the pre-clinical development stage, with IND submission to the FDA anticipated by the end of next year.
The second programme, AUR300, was acquired as part of an international licensing and research agreement with Riptide Bioscience for an upfront payment of $6m.
AUR300 modulates a type of white blood cell called M2 macrophages through the macrophage mannose receptor CD206.
M2 macrophage dysregulation causes fibrosis. AUR300 can potentially lower M2 dysregulation and lessen inflammatory cytokines.
Aurinia noted that these properties of the therapeutic could have substantial clinical applications for autoimmune and fibrotic diseases.
Riptide is eligible for further payments based on specific development, clinical and regulatory milestones, and royalties on marketing the product.
AUR300 is expected to enter the clinic in the first half of 2023.
Aurinia Research executive vice-president Rob Huizinga said: “Both of these programmes are rooted in strong science and at the leading edge of approaches for the treatment of autoimmune, fibrotic, and kidney diseases.
“Significant research has been done to date in both BAFF/APRIL inhibition and macrophage modulation and we are confident both of these approaches offer high potential across multiple autoimmune diseases as we advance them into the clinic.”
In March this year, Aurinia announced a positive cost-effectiveness assessment of LUPKYNIS (voclosporin) based on the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review revised evidence report analysis.