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Pfizer will pay $15M up front to license Kineta's cancer drug screening platform

Pfizer Inc. will pay Kineta Immuno-Oncology LLC $15 million up front for access to the Seattle company's screening platform to develop cancer treatments.

Kineta's technology is designed to find compounds that activate the retinoic acid-inducible gene I, or RIG-I, to produce an immune response that causes cell death in tumors.

In addition to the up-front payment, Pfizer has agreed to pay Kineta up to $505 million when certain research, development and sales goals are met.

Kineta said that compounds discovered with its platform have shown complete tumor regression and an increase in immune cells in preclinical studies, and work both alone and with other immunotherapies such as checkpoint inhibitors.

"Therapies that trigger the activation of the innate immune response in tumors have significant potential to expand the number of patients who will benefit from cancer immunotherapy, especially if they can be administered systemically," said Robert Abraham, senior vice president of Pfizer and head of the company's oncology research and development group. "Kineta has taken a promising, differentiated approach to the discovery of RIG-I agonists, and we are looking forward to collaborating with Kineta and jointly developing these RIG-I-targeted agents into medicines with potentially unique immune-stimulating properties."