Chinook launches a new biotech with major VCs in China to double down on kidney disease R&D

After merging its way onto the Nasdaq last year, kidney disease biotech Chinook Therapeutics is launching a new joint venture in the form of startup SanReno Therapeutics to deepen its footprint in China.

The JV works as 50-50 split between the biotech and an investor syndicate led by Frazier Healthcare Partners and Pivotal bioVenture Partners China, with the aim of “expanding its global reach and execution” for atrasentan, an endothelin receptor antagonist in mid- to late-stage tests, and monoclonal antibody BION-1301 in earlier trials for IgA nephropathy (IgAN).

Also known as Berger's disease, IgAN occurs when IgA deposits build up in the kidneys, causing inflammation that damages the organ’s tissues.

Under the JV, Chinook has granted SanReno exclusive rights to work and sell atrasentan and BION-1301 in China and surrounding areas in exchange for 50% ownership of SanReno.

The VCs have invested $40 million in exchange for the remaining ownership of SanReno. In addition to its equity stake, Chinook is entitled to nab biobucks and royalties from both meds.

Chinook, which made its way onto the Nasdaq last summer via a merger with Aduro Biotech, retains rights to the drug outside of the JV.

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“Formation of this joint venture allows Chinook to expand our global reach and establish a strong presence in China by partnering with investors who are experienced in company formation, drug development and commercialization in the region,” said Eric Dobmeier, president and CEO of Chinook.  

“Chronic kidney disease is a major public health concern in China, affecting over ten percent of the population, including several million patients with IgAN. Working with SanReno will expand Chinook’s access to Chinese patient populations, key opinion leader networks and on-the-ground operational support to accelerate enrollment and regulatory approval of our programs globally.”