UCSF Cancer-Drug Spinoff Acquired for $190 Million

A cancer drug company founded by UCSF Professor Kevan Shokat, PhD, has been acquired for $190 million by Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceuticals in an effort to add two novel drug projects to Takeda’s pipeline of potential oncology therapies.

Shokat, who chairs the UCSF Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, launched Intellikine in 2007 to translate his UCSF kinase research into the development of small-molecule drugs. Kinases are enzymes that are known to regulate the majority of cellular pathways. The Intellikine therapies specifically target the PI-3 kinase (PI3K) pathway – a key target in cancer biology due to its impact on a wide array of cellular functions, including cell growth, proliferation and survival.

Intellikine is based on Shokat’s research at UCSF into four common variations of this pathway. In just four years, the company has developed a portfolio of novel small-molecule kinase inhibitors that selectively target the drivers of cancer cell growth and already has moved three potential drugs into human clinical trials. Takeda’s announcement identified two specific drug candidates – INK128 and INK1117 – as being potential “best in class” inhibitors of cancer growth. The third candidate is being developed in partnership with Infinity Pharmaceuticals.

Under the agreement, Takeda America Holdings will purchase Intellikine for $190 million in cash, plus up to $120 million in so-called “BioBucks,” or projected payments linked to specific milestones in clinical development.