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Keeping Focus on Cancer, Karyopharm Licenses Antiviral to Anivive

Xconomy Boston — 

A compound that Karyopharm Therapeutics has tested as an antiviral for humans is getting a new home with Anivive Lifesciences, which plans to bring the drug to market as a cancer treatment for dogs.

Anivive is paying $1 million up front to Newton, MA-based Karyopharm (NASDAQ: KPTI) for rights to the drug, verdinexor. If Anivive, based in Southern California, is able to gain regulatory approval for the drug in the U.S. and Europe, it could pay Karyopharm as much as $43.5 million more. The deal also calls for Anivive to pay Karyopharm royalties on sales of an approved drug.

Karyopharm has developed a pipeline of drugs that work by blocking an “export protein” called XPO1, which plays a role in shuttling around other proteins. In cancer, Karyopharm says that blocking export proteins keeps tumor-suppressing proteins in the nucleus of the cancer cell where they can do their work. Karyopharm also says that several viruses rely on XPO-1, and blocking the protein interferes with viral replication.

Karyopharm went public in 2013, raising $109 million to finance clinical trial work, including tests for lead drug candidate selinexor, which the company is developing to treat multiple myeloma.

While the company was studying verdinexor, it tested the drug in dogs with multiple myeloma as a model for treating human cancers. The studies of verdinexor in dogs proved successful. In a statement announcing the Anivive deal, Karyopharm said that the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine found that the safety and efficacy data were enough to support a speedy approval of the drug to treat canine lymphoma.

Karyopharm had also completed a Phase 1 trial testing various doses of the drug in humans, with the goal of eventually treating influenza, and possibly HIV. But with the drug now licensed to Anivive, it is now on a path to the pet market.

In a statement, Karyopharm CEO Michael Kauffman said licensing verdinexor to Anivive allows his company to keep its focus on cancers in humans. Lead drug selinexor is in a Phase 2b clinical trial enrolling patients with multiple myeloma who have previously been treated but relapsed, or who have not responded to cancer treatment. Karyopharm expects to report initial results from this trial in early 2018. The company is also in earlier stages of testing of selinexor in lymphoma, as well as liposarcoma.

Photo by Flickr user Jim Leary via a Creative Commons license.