Cara Therapeutics advances pruritus drug with licensing deal
STAMFORD — Biotech firm Cara Therapeutics, which is developing treatments for the itch condition pruritus, announced this week a seven-figure licensing agreement with Enteris BioPharma to support Cara’s under-development Korsuva drug.
Through the agreement, Boonton, N.J.-based Enteris granted Stamford-based Cara a nonexclusive license to its “Peptelligence” technology for the development and commercialization of an oral form of Korsuva, in any indication, around the world except in South Korea and Japan.
Enteris will receive an upfront payment of $8 million, including $4 million in cash and $4 million in Cara common stock. Enteris is also eligible to receive certain “milestone payments” and royalties, although Cara has a two-year window to buy out the royalty obligation under particular conditions.
“We are pleased to take another important step in advancing oral Korsuva as a potential novel treatment for chronic pruritus by entering into this commercial formulation license,” Cara CEO and President Derek Chalmers said in a statement. “With three ongoing phase-two trials across a range of patient populations for whom pruritus remains a significant unmet need, we are now well positioned to continue oral Korsuva’s development and potential future commercialization.”
Among other recent initiatives, Cara closed late last month on a $145.5 million stock offering to support its operations.
The company plans to use proceeds from the shares’ sale — its third major public offering in the past two-and-a-half years — to fund work leading to the submission of a new drug application to the federal Food and Drug Administration for an injectable form of Korsuva. The treatment is being studied in phase-three trials in patients with chronic kidney disease who are undergoing hemodialysis.
Among other purposes, the funds would support the advancement of clinical programs for the oral version of Korsuva, including completion of phase-two trials for patients with CKD, chronic liver disease or the skin condition atopic dermatitis.
The initiative followed a $98 million stock issuance in July 2018 and a $92 million sale in 2017.
Korsuva would be Cara’s first drug to hit the market. It works by targeting the body’s peripheral nervous system, as well as certain immune cells.
There are varying estimates of the prevalence of pruritus. Acute pruritus affects about 8 percent of the general population, according to a Norwegian study; a French study found 42 percent of patients with skin diseases reported having experienced the condition.
Cara Therapeutics is based at 107 Elm St., in downtown Stamford.
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