Takeda ends microbiome alliance with Finch Therapeutics after pipeline assessment


A microbiome alliance between Takeda Pharmaceutical and Finch Therapeutics is ending without either of the two partnered programs for inflammatory bowel disease reaching human testing.

Finch said late last week that the Japanese pharma giant decided to terminate the alliance after a pipeline review. Rights to the two microbiome programs will be turned over to Somerville, Massachusetts-based Finch. The termination of the agreement is set to take effect on Nov. 17.

Some gut disorders stem from an imbalance in the trillions of microbes that comprise the gut microbiome. Finch develops live biotherapeutics intended to deliver the microbes that a patient’s gut is missing. The biotech’s lead internal program, CP101, is in late-stage development for the prevention of recurrent Clostridioides difficile infection.

The collaboration with Takeda began in 2017 with the biotech granting the pharma giant an exclusive license to develop TAK-524 (formerly FIN-524), a microbiome therapy candidate for ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease localized to the colon. The deal paid Finch $10 million up with the potential for up to $176 million more tied to the achievement of milestones.

In 2019, the agreement expanded to a second program, FIN-525. That microbiome therapeutic candidate was being developed for Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease in which the inflammation can occur anywhere across the length of the gastrointestinal tract with stretches of healthy parts of the intestine interspersed between inflamed regions.

TAK-524 was designed with computational and molecular analysis of data from 146 patients treatment with fecal microbiota transplant and 19 observational studies of an additional 2,210 patients. Last year, the agreement was further amended, shifting to the pharma giant the primary development, manufacturing, and regulatory responsibility for TAK-524.

To date, Finch said Takeda has paid it more than $44 million over the course of the collaboration. That sum includes the $10 million upfront payment, $4 million in milestones, and more than $30 million in reimbursement of R&D expenses. When the agreement formally ends, Finch will receive a royalty-free license to all data and intellectual property produced during the course of the partnership. In the termination announcement, Finch CEO Mark Smith said his company will explore other collaborations to continue development of both inflammatory bowel disease programs.

“We are currently conducting a review of our portfolio and assessing the financial and strategic impact of the discontinuation of our collaboration with Takeda,” Smith said.

In its second quarter 2022 financial report, Finch said it had $104.6 million in cash and cash equivalents as of June 30.

Photo: spawns, Getty Images

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