US-based Deciphera Pharmaceuticals has signed an exclusive licence agreement with biopharmaceutical company Zai Lab to develop and commercialise cancer therapeutic ripretinib in Greater China.

Ripretinib is an investigational, oral kinase switch control inhibitor being developed to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST) and other solid tumours driven by KIT or platelet-derived growth factor receptor A (PDGFRα).

It was specifically designed to inhibit a broad spectrum of KIT and PDGFRα mutations in order to allow better treatment of GIST patients.

The compound blocks initiating and secondary KIT mutations in exons 9, 11, 13, 14, 17 and 18 associated with GIST, as well as the primary D816V exon 17 mutation involved in systemic mastocytosis (SM).

It also inhibits primary PDGFRα mutations in exons 12, 14 and 18, including the exon 18 D842V mutation linked to a GIST subset.

Deciphera discovered and developed the therapeutic. The latest alliance is intended to advance its development and potential commercialisation into the Greater China region.

Deciphera Pharmaceuticals president and CEO Steve Hoerter said: “Zai Lab’s strong track record of rapidly progressing the development of innovative product candidates will be a major asset in accelerating the development of ripretinib in this area of the world.

“We are excited to be working with Zai Lab to potentially offer patients in Greater China what we believe is a much needed therapeutic option for the treatment of GIST.”

As part of the deal, Zai Lab will gain exclusive regional development and commercialisation rights for ripretinib in Greater China.

Zai Lab will make an upfront cash payment of $20m to Deciphera, which will be additionally eligible for up to $185m in potential development and commercial milestones. Zai Lab will also pay royalties on annual net sales of ripretinib in Greater China.

Deciphera plans to expand the global Phase III INTRIGUE clinical trial being performed to compare ripretinib to sunitinib in second-line GIST patients.

The company is currently considering the addition of clinical trial sites in China.