Viracta Therapeutics will receive tax credits and other benefits under a recent orphan drug designation, the latest from a company that’s been in the news lately.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration awarded the designation to San Diego-based Viracta’s lead drug candidate, called nanatinostat. It’s designed to treat lymphoid tumors connected to the Epstein Barr Virus, or EBV, which can cause cancer.
It’s undergoing phase 2 clinical trials in three EBV-associated indications, with an additional phase 1b/2 trial.
Per the designation, Viracta will receive tax credits for clinical trial costs, fee waivers and assistance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in drug development. In addition, Viracta is eligible for seven years of market exclusivity, if the drug wins approval.
“Importantly, the orphan drug designation includes both T cell and B cell lymphomas, which highlights our ability to target cancer cells that contain the EBV genome regardless of tumor type," said Ivor Royston, Viracta's CEO.
Royston is known for co-founding San Diego’s first biotech, Hybritech, along with his leading involvement in a slew of other biotech ventures.
In December, Viracta inked a partnership in hopes of bringing nanatinostat to China, assuming regulatory approval.
Chinese company Salubris committed $10 million to Viracta Therapeutics as part of the larger undisclosed round, and will shoulder drug development. Under the deal, Viracta is eligible for an additional $58 million in development milestones, along with commercial milestones and sales royalties if the drug wins approval.
Viracta also entered into a partnership with NantKwest, in which they combine nanatinostat with NantKwest’s natural killer cell immunotherapy.
The company said it plans to strike more geographic and combination therapy partnerships.