NEW YORK, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Aurinia Pharmaceuticals , the kidney therapies developer that was pushed by activist hedge fund MKT Capital to sell itself, failed to attract binding offers and will embark on share buybacks and cost cuts instead, people familiar with the matter said.

Aurinia plans to announce later on Thursday it will conclude the strategic review it launched at the end of June without a deal, after receiving only one non-binding expression of interest from more than 60 parties it contacted, the sources said. That expression of interest did not result in a formal offer, the sources added.

The outcome reflects the challenges Aurinia faces in scaling up its flagship drug Lupkynis. Held back by the drug's development cost and slow ramp, the company has yet to turn a profit.

Its shares have dropped 80% from the peak of takeover speculation in October 2021, and the company now has a market value of $1.1 billion.

Aurinia plans to roll out a $150 million share buyback program and will stop its research on immunotherapies to focus on Lupkynis, which hit the market in 2021, according to the sources. The move will save it as much as $55 million annually, the sources said.

Aurinia declined to comment.

Lupkynis is used to treat lupus nephritis. The kidney inflammatory disease is estimated to affect almost 135,000 people in the U.S., mainly of Black, Asian and Hispanic ethnicity, according to Aurinia.

Aurinia generated $130.4 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2023, up 24% from the first nine months of 2022.

The company operates out of Edmonton, Alberta and Rockville, Maryland. Its CEO Peter Greenleaf has led the company since 2019 after his two predecessors, Charles Rowland and Richard Glickman, lasted only about one year and two years on the job, respectively.

Glickman, who founded the company, was in charge the first time Aurinia formally explored a sale without success in 2018, the sources said. (Reporting by David Carnevali in New York; Editing by Sonali Paul)