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Viracta Therapeutics Buys Back Rights to Nanatinostat, Valcyte Combo in China

NEW YORK – Viracta Therapeutics said on Monday that it has reacquired the rights to develop and commercialize its investigational agent nanatinostat combined with valganciclovir (Genentech's Valcyte) for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-positive lymphoma in China.

The reacquisition follows a 2018 deal in which San Diego-based Viracta sold the rights to develop and commercialize the drug combination in China to Shenzhen Salubris Pharmaceuticals (Salubris). Now that Salubris has shifted its focus toward cardiovascular diseases while Viracta has doubled down on its precision oncology focus, however, Viracta CEO Ivor Royston said in a statement that the firms decided that "the reversion of these rights to Viracta was in the best interest of patients."

Viracta paid Salubris $4 million in cash to garner exclusive rights to the nanatinostat-valganciclovir combination. The company, which merged with Sunesis Pharmaceuticals in November 2020 to create one precision oncology company under Viracta's name, is currently evaluating the regimen in a global Phase II trial for patients with EBV-positive lymphoma.

The HDAC inhibitor nanatinostat is designed to induce the expression of EBV protein kinases and allows valganciclovir to target EBV-positive cancer cells, causing them to die. Following clearance of an investigational new drug application from the US Food and Drug Administration, Viracta will also launch a global Phase Ib/II trial evaluating the combination in patients with EBV-positive, recurrent or metastatic nasopharyngeal cancer and other EBV-positive solid tumors. The firm expects to launch this trial during the second half of this year.