Boehringer Ingelheim to surf with Melbourne-based biotech in $181M neuropsychiatric therapy deal

Boehringer Ingelheim is heading out into the surf with Australia's Kinoxis Therapeutics in a $181 million biobucks deal to develop therapies for neuropsychiatric disorders.

The German pharma will work with the small Melbourne-based biotech to develop small molecule oxytocin-targeting precision psychiatry treatments, according to a Friday press release. The goal of these treatments is to target the brain oxytocin system to treat disrupted social behavior.

Kinoxis will receive an undisclosed upfront fee in the deal plus research support payments. Down the line, Boehringer Ingelheim has offered various milestone payments that could total $181 million (AU$266 million), plus royalties on future sales.

The privately-held Australian biotech is developing treatments for substance use disorders and social dysfunction in neurological and psychiatric disorders, based on research from the University of Sydney. Kinoxis is backed by Australian venture fund Uniseed and also has funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse for its lead drug KNX100, which aims to mitigate opioid withdrawal symptoms.

For Boehringer Ingelheim, the deal adds to a handful of central nervous system and mental health therapies in development, including phase 2 drug BI 1358894, which is being tested in post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. Iclepertin is in phase 3 testing for cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia.

The company also launched a clinical test for a smartphone app-based digital therapeutic to treat schizophrenia with Click Therapeutics this week.