Intezyne Technologies, a privately held drug development company dedicated to improving the treatment of cancer, announced it has acquired Niiki Pharma, of Hoboken, NJ, and Philadelphia, PA. Through the acquisition, Intezyne becomes a development-stage company with two compounds in early and mid-stage clinical development.
The most advanced asset Intezyne acquired is a first-in-class GRP78 suppressor, which has demonstrated significant potential in patients with neuroendocrine tumors.
"Niiki Pharma's GRP78 suppressor is the leading candidate in the field against this novel target and has the potential to enhance the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors and other tumor types," stated Habib Skaff, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Intezyne. "With the addition of this Phase 2-ready compound to the candidates we have moving through preclinical testing and our breakthrough nano-technology platform, Intezyne has the potential to develop treatments for a broad array of solid tumors. Our first goal is to launch the Phase 2 study for IT-139 in patients with non-pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, as there are no anti-tumor therapies currently approved for this specific type of cancer."
Niiki Pharma was founded by several highly experienced global pharmaceutical executives, with the goal to develop new classes of oncology drugs. In 2009, Niiki acquired several families of early preclinical-stage first-in-class anti-cancer compounds that were discovered by Professor Bernhard K. Keppler, Full Professor and Head of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Vienna, Austria. Two of these compounds were subsequently moved into development. IT-139 (formerly NKP-1339) is a small molecule GRP78 suppressor. GPR78 is a master regulator of endoplasmic reticulum stress, is over-expressed in many cancer types, and plays a significant role in tumor survival and resistance in many tumor types. IT-139 has completed a single-agent Phase 1 trial, where it was shown to be well tolerated with manageable side effects. The Phase 1 trial also showed single-agent IT-139 to have anti-tumor activity in multiple tumors types, including neuroendocrine tumors. IT-235 (formerly NKP-2235) has a cleared IND, and its single-agent Phase 1 is projected to start in 2013. IT-235 is administered orally and targets cancer cells while preventing bone degradation, which is a significant morbidity associated with tumors that metastasize to the bone, such as multiple myeloma, lung, breast, and prostate cancers.
Consequent to the acquisition, Niiki Pharma's co-founder, Hooshmand Sheshbaradaran, PhD, has joined Intezyne's executive team. Dr. Sheshbaradaran, who has held senior-level positions at some of the leading pharmaceutical companies, including Roche and Pharmacia (acquired by Pfizer), joins Intezyne as its Chief Development Officer and will serve as a member of Intezyne's Board of Directors. John S. McBride, a Niiki Pharma board member, also joins the Intezyne Board of Directors. Mr. McBride brings broad global senior management experience from several oncology-focused pharmaceutical companies.
Intezyne was advised by Patton Boggs. Niiki Pharma was advised by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and Long Trail Advisors LLC.