Kinnate Biopharma, a Californian biotech, is taking significant measures to manage its financial situation after disappointing cancer data results led to a sharp decline in its stock price, which fell by 69% over the past six months. In response, the company has announced plans to lay off 70% of its workforce and streamline its pipeline to extend its cash reserves until the second quarter of 2026.
The primary focus of Kinnate’s efforts will be on advancing two programs: the pan-RAF inhibitor exarafenib, particularly in combination with Pfizer’s MEK inhibitor binimetinib (Mektovi), and KIN-8741, a c-MET inhibitor intended for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. The combination of exarafenib and binimetinib has shown promising results, with “radiographic tumor reductions” observed in a significant proportion of patients with NRAS-mutant melanoma.
KIN-8741 is expected to enter human studies in the fourth quarter, signaling Kinnate’s commitment to advancing these selected programs.
Financial analysts at William Blair have welcomed this strategic shift, describing it as a “prudent move” that focuses on the most promising assets in Kinnate’s pipeline. They believe that the company’s pipeline holds substantial value that is not currently reflected in its negative enterprise value, and they anticipate multiple catalysts over the next two years that could unlock this value.
However, Kinnate’s pivot also means discontinuing the development of certain programs. This includes the pause in the development of KIN-7136, a MEK inhibitor, despite its clearance to enter clinical trials, and the exploration of strategic alternatives for exarafenib monotherapy and KIN-3248, an FGFR inhibitor.
Regrettably, these pipeline adjustments will result in approximately 65 employees losing their jobs, reducing Kinnate’s workforce from 94 employees to 28. This staff reduction will encompass all employees at the wholly owned Chinese subsidiary, Kinnjiu Biopharma.
Kinnate’s remaining workforce will concentrate their efforts on advancing the exarafenib combination program and KIN-8741, with plans to select two doses for further development in the exarafenib combination program and submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for KIN-8741 in the fourth quarter.
As of September 11, Kinnate had $204.3 million in cash reserves, and these strategic changes are aimed at optimizing the use of these funds to advance their most promising programs and potentially unlock greater value for the company in the future.