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Kidney is the new liver: why kidney indications are coming into sharp focus

Investors and pharmas see big opportunities in the kidney, based on progress at both ends of the drug development spectrum

Interest in kidney diseases is mounting among investors, biotechs and pharmas at a rate reminiscent of the liver disease explosion almost a decade ago. The momentum is driven by improvements at both ends of the drug development spectrum -- regulatory acceptance of new endpoints that can shorten trial times, and new targets yielded from progress in unraveling the disease biology.

Over the past five years, at least five new companies were formed to exclusively treat kidney diseases, and countless others have added renal disease programs to their pipelines.

The trend spans investors, newcos, big biotech and pharmas, which all see opportunities to build on the new target discoveries in inflammation, oxidation and fibrosis.

The most recent example was Versant Ventures’ August launch of precision medicine renal disease company Chinook Therapeutics Inc. with a $65 million series A round.

Three months earlier, kidney-focused precision medicine startup, Goldfinch Biopharma Inc., signed a deal with Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) for $109 million up front and up to almost $2 billion in milestones (see “Gilead’s Goldfinch Deal”). Then on Thursday, Goldfinch signed another deal giving Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (Tokyo:4502) negotiation rights to preclinical CB1 mAb GFB-024.

At least 11 major biopharmas now have clinical programs for specific renal disease indications -- a much sharper focus than five years

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