RedHill Biopharma Ltd., a specialty biopharmaceutical company, announced that it has entered into an exclusive license agreement with Kukbo Co. Ltd., a South Korean corporation, for oral opaganib for the treatment of COVID-19, in South Korea.
Under the terms of the license agreement, which follows the previously announced strategic investment by Kukbo, RedHill will receive an upfront payment of $1.5 million and is eligible for up to $5.6 million in milestone payments as well as low double-digit royalties on net sales of oral opaganib in South Korea. Kukbo will receive the exclusive rights to commercialize opaganib in South Korea for COVID-19.
Dror Ben-Asher, RedHill’s CEO, said: “South Korea is currently experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases with the Korea Disease Control & Prevention Agency reporting almost 4 million new cases already registered in the first half of March alone. Together with our partner, Kukbo, we are working hard to bring opaganib to Korean patients in need of new COVID-19 therapeutic options.”
“Every day this month we are seeing an average of almost 2000 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in South Korea and we desperately need medications that can effectively treat these patients,” said Hyun Ha, Kukbo’s CEO. “With the data supporting opaganib for COVID-19, and the expanded partnership with RedHill, Kukbo is determined to work with local regulators with the aim of bringing opaganib to South Korean patients, as soon as possible.”
The partnership with Kukbo also includes a right of first offer for RedHill’s late-stage clinical assets, opaganib, RHB-107 (upamostat) and Talicia®, for one or more of the territories of South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and/or Malaysia. The right of first offer has been extended as part of the new license agreement until the end of October 2022.
About Opaganib (ABC294640)
Opaganib, a new chemical entity, is a proprietary, first-in-class, orally-administered, sphingosine kinase-2 (SK2) selective inhibitor, with proposed dual anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity. Opaganib is host-targeted and is expected to be effective against emerging viral variants, having already demonstrated inhibition against variants of concern, including Delta. Opaganib has also shown anticancer activity and positive preclinical results in renal fibrosis, and has the potential to target multiple oncology, viral, inflammatory, and gastrointestinal indications.
In prespecified analyses of Phase 2/3 clinical data, oral opaganib has demonstrated improved viral RNA clearance, significant mortality reduction on top of remdesivir and corticosteroids and faster time to recovery. Opaganib previously delivered promising U.S. Phase 2 data in patients with moderate to severe COVID-19, submitted for peer review and recently published in medRxiv.
Opaganib has also received Orphan Drug designation from the U.S. FDA for the treatment of cholangiocarcinoma and is being evaluated in a Phase 2a study in advanced cholangiocarcinoma and in a Phase 2 study in prostate cancer. Patient accrual, treatment and analysis in this study are ongoing.
Opaganib demonstrated potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, inhibiting viral replication of the original SARS-CoV-2 and variants tested to date in an in vitro model of human lung bronchial tissue. Additionally, preclinical in vivo studies have demonstrated opaganib’s potential to decrease renal fibrosis, have shown decreased fatality rates from influenza virus infection, and amelioration of bacteria-induced pneumonia lung injury with reduced levels of IL-6 and TNF-alpha in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids.
The ongoing clinical studies with opaganib are registered on www.ClinicalTrials.gov, a web-based service by the U.S. National Institute of Health, which provides public access to information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies.
About RedHill Biopharma
RedHill Biopharma Ltd. is a specialty biopharmaceutical company primarily focused on gastrointestinal and infectious diseases. RedHill promotes the gastrointestinal drugs, Movantik® for opioid-induced constipation in adults, Talicia®for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection in adults, and Aemcolo® for the treatment of travelers’ diarrhea in adults. RedHill’s key clinical late-stage development programs include: (i) RHB-204, with an ongoing Phase 3 study for pulmonary nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) disease; (ii) opaganib (ABC294640), a first-in-class oral SK2 selective inhibitor targeting multiple indications with a Phase 2/3 program for COVID-19 and Phase 2 studies for prostate cancer and cholangiocarcinoma ongoing; (iii) RHB-107 (upamostat), an oral serine protease inhibitor in a U.S. Phase 2/3 study as treatment for symptomatic COVID-19, and targeting multiple other cancer and inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases; (iv) RHB-104, with positive results from a first Phase 3 study for Crohn’s disease; (v) RHB-102, with positive results from a Phase 3 study for acute gastroenteritis and gastritis and positive results from a Phase 2 study for IBS-D; and (vi) RHB-106, an encapsulated bowel preparation.