Curis, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRIS) announced that it has exercised its option to extend the exclusivity period with Aurigene under the collaboration, license and option agreement established in January, 2015.  As previously reported, the extension of exclusivity is associated with a payment of $7.5 million to Aurigene, payable in two equal installments in the first and third quarters of 2017.

The collaboration between Curis and Aurigene is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of small molecule drug candidates in the fields of immuno-oncology and selected precision oncology targets.  Licensed programs within the collaboration include CA-170, a first-in-class oral, small molecule antagonist targeting programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) and V-domain Ig suppressor of T cell activation (VISTA) immune checkpoints that is currently being studied in a Phase 1 trial in patients with solid tumors and lymphomas; and CA-327, an oral, small molecule immune checkpoint antagonist targeting PD-L1 and T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain containing protein-3 (TIM-3) and CA-4948, an oral small molecule inhibitor of Interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 4 (IRAK4), both of which are currently completing IND-enabling studies.

The exclusivity extension comes two months after initial data from the CA-170 Ph. 1 Clinical Trial were presented at a scientific meeting — and four months after the companies closed a $24.5M investment in Curis by Aurigene.

“The Curis-Aurigene partnership has been very productive in designing and developing oral, small molecule inhibitors of immune checkpoints for cancer therapy,” said Dr. Ali Fattaey, Curis’s CEO, “With the CA-170 Phase 1 Clinical Trial now well under way, we look forward to working with our partner, Aurigene, to initiate the first clinical trial of CA-327 planned for later this year, and the expected selection of additional collaboration programs in the years to come.”

“We are delighted that our collaboration has advanced three small molecule programs in the last two years,” said CSN Murthy, Aurigene’s CEO. “We continue to work closely with Curis to focus our collective resources, creating and developing innovative drug candidates for cancer patients, including multiple first-in-class oral small molecule checkpoint antagonists within immuno-oncology.” (Original Source)

Shares of Curis Inc. closed last Friday at $3.15, up $0.03 or +0.96%. CRIS has a 1-year high of $3.72 and a 1-year low of $1.25. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $3.11 and its 200-day moving average is $2.40.

On the ratings front, RBC analyst Adnan Butt reiterated a Buy rating on CRIS, with a price target of $7, in a report issued on October 12. The current price target implies an upside of 122% from current levels.

According to TipRanks.com, Butt has a yearly average loss of 0.6%, a 46% success rate, and is ranked #3167 out of 4350 analysts.

Curis, Inc. is a biotechnology company, which is focused on the development and commercialization of innovative drug candidates for the treatment of human cancers. Its pipeline includes is CUDC-907, an orally-available, small molecule inhibitor of histone deacetylase, or HDAC, and phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase, or PI3K enzymes. The company conducts research programs both internally and through strategic collaborations.