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Kineta, Seattle Children's Research Institute collaborate to develop medications for autoimmune diseases

PBR Staff Writer Published 12 June 2014

Kineta, a US-based biotechnology firm, and Seattle Children's Research Institute have launched the Alliance for Children's Therapeutics (ACT), a pediatric research and funding collaboration designed to accelerate the development of new medications for children and teens with lupus nephritis and other autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

The company said that ACT creates a new funding model to speed research for its potential use by pediatric patients.

Seattle Children's Research Institute president Jim Hendricks said funding for pediatric research lags disproportionately behind research funding for adult diseases.

"Thirty percent of the U.S. population is under the age of 21, and yet only six percent of the entire National Institutes of Health's budget is devoted to pediatric medicine and care," Hendricks said.

"This gap results in limited development of new therapies for children, who now often have no other choice than to use adult-only tested medications."
The company said that there are significant barriers in developing pediatric therapies and the lack of pediatric medication use information poses risks to children and teens.

In 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 27 new drugs out of which just seven new drugs were approved for pediatric use that same year.

ACT, which brings together one of the US's top five pediatric research institutions with a leading biotechnology company, aims to accelerate development of medicines for children and teens with autoimmune diseases.

The alliance will rely on collaborative funding model that combines philanthropic gifts made to Seattle Children's Research Institute with equity investments made to Kineta.

Kineta president and chief executive officer Charles Magness said for too long pediatric studies have been the neglected component of clinical trials.

"Kineta has a drug candidate that has completed two adult clinical trials and is well positioned for a clinical trial which could make a real advancement for autoimmune diseases in children," Magness said.

Initial funding will help move ACT's lupus nephritis research into a clinical setting and will also support work to adapt ShK-186 to become a viable treatment for other autoimmune diseases.

ShK-186 is an experimental drug compound derived from sea anemone venom that is expected to improve treatment of autoimmune diseases like lupus nephritis.