Aurinia expands rare autoimmune and kidney-related diseases pipeline

Aurinia Pharmaceuticals has expanded its rare autoimmune and kidney-related disease pipeline after acquiring two novel assets.

The first programme, AUR200, was acquired by way of Aurinia purchasing all of the common stock of Thunderbolt Pharma.

AUR200 is a recombinant Fc fusion protein designed to specifically block B-cell Activating Factor, known as BAFF, and A Proliferation-Inducing Ligand, known as APRIL.

BAFF and APRIL promote B cell survival and differentiation and have been shown to play a prominent role in the pathogenesis of certain autoimmune and nephrology conditions.

For the acquisition, Aurinia made an aggregate upfront payment of $750,000 to the shareholders of Thunderbolt and will be responsible for future regulatory milestones upon investigational new drug (IND) acceptance by the US FDA or any equivalent authority.

Additionally, Thunderbolt shareholders will receive low single digit royalties on any future net sales. AUR200 is currently undergoing pre-clinical development with projected submission of an IND to the FDA by the end of 2022.

The second programme, AUR300, was secured through a global licensing and research agreement with Riptide Bioscience.

AUR300 is a novel peptide therapeutic that modulates M2 macrophages (a type of white blood cells) via the macrophage mannose receptor CD206.

Dysregulation of M2 macrophages drives fibrosis. AUR300 acts to reduce M2 dysregulation and decrease inflammatory cytokines, and therefore may have significant clinical applications for autoimmune and fibrotic diseases.

Riptide has longstanding expertise in interpreting the etiology of fibrosis, including the discovery of lysyl oxidase and procollagen.

As part of the agreement, Aurinia paid Riptide an upfront fee of $6 million USD. Additional milestone payments are due upon certain development, clinical and regulatory milestones, and royalties will be payable upon commercialization.

It is anticipated that clinical development for AUR300 will commence during the first half of 2023.

“Both of these programs are rooted in strong science and at the leading edge of approaches for the treatment of autoimmune, fibrotic, and kidney diseases,” said Rob Huizinga, Executive Vice President of Research of Aurinia.

“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.”

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