KSQ scores ‘double-digit million’ payment from Japan’s Ono for preclinical cancer programs

KSQ scores ‘double-digit million’ payment from Japan’s Ono for preclinical cancer programs

Two years after signing a collab with Takeda, KSQ Therapeutics has garnered interest from another Japanese pharma. This time it’s Ono Pharmaceutical, which is handing over a “double-digit million” upfront payment for a number of preclinical oncology programs.

The research-stage DNA damage response (DDR) programs were all identified using KSQ’s CRISPRomics platform technology. In return, the Lexington, Massachusetts-based biotech will be eligible for milestone payments that could stretch into the “triple-digit millions” as well as royalties, the company said.

“This acquisition of multiple research-stage oncology programs by Ono is further validation of the power of our platform to identify novel oncology targets and develop potential first-in-class programs,” KSQ CEO Qasim Rizvi. “This is an important transaction for KSQ, enabling us to focus on our other programs. We look forward to watching Ono’s progress as they advance these programs toward clinical studies.”

Those “other programs” Rizvi referred to include KSQ-4279, a USP1 inhibitor that entered phase 1 in September. The trial will investigate the therapy across multiple indications in combination with a PARP inhibitor or chemotherapy.

The aim of KSQ’s CRISPRomics platform is to decode the genome to identify potential gene targets for oncology and autoimmune disease therapies. As well as KSQ-4279, the biotech has used the platform to work on a pair of preclinical T-cell therapies, while a Treg program remains in the discovery stages.

The Ono transaction comes almost exactly two years after a deal with Takeda worth up to $100 million to develop two T-cell programs as well a discovery program to identify natural killer cell targets. However, KSQ had been quiet on the collaboration since then.

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