Novartis has acquired Chinook Therapeutics for more than $3.2bn in a move to bolster its portfolio of drugs targeting kidney disease.

With reported sales of $13.62bn in Q2 2023, Novartis is looking to expand its drug portfolio. Just last month, the company acquired DTx Pharma for $1bn for its small interfering RNA (siRNA) treatment portfolio for rare diseases.

As part of Chinook’s acquisition, its shareholders would receive $40 per share, totalling $3.2bn. The shareholders would also be eligible to receive an additional $4 per share contingent (totalling $300m) on regulatory milestones.

The acquisition comes at a significant inflection point with two high-profile drugs, atrasentan and zigakibart, in Phase III development for the treatment of IgA nephropathy (IgAN). A pivotal data readout for the Phase III atrasentan trial is planned for Q4 2023.

IgAN is a chronic kidney disease, in which immunoglobulin A (IgA) is trapped in the glomeruli of the kidney, thereby causing kidney scarring and damage. As per the charity Kidney Research UK, the current treatment for the disease includes symptomatic control, blood pressure medications that can also reduce proteinuria (a common symptom of IgAN), and immunosuppressants.

Zigakibart is a subcutaneous monoclonal antibody that targets a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL). The Phase III trial began in July 2023, with the goal of enrolling 272 participants. The primary endpoint for the study is the change in proteinuria from baseline in the treatment group, compared to a placebo.

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Atrasentan is an oral endothelin A receptor antagonist (ERA), which is currently in a placebo-controlled Phase III trial (NCT04573478) for IgAN. Based on available data, Chinook says atrasentan causes a significant reduction in proteinuria compared to placebo.

Chinook’s portfolio also consists of drugs in early phases of development including CHK-336, for treating primary hyperoxaluria (PH) and other kidney stone disorders, its development is on pause due to a serious adverse event observed in its Phase I study.