Let's Hear It for the Yale Professor Who Launched New Biotech Kleo

Let's Hear It for the Yale Professor Who Launched New Biotech Kleo Pharma September 13, 2016
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Kleo Pharmaceuticals launched in New Haven, Connecticut early this month with an unspecified amount of Series A venture capital.

The company is based on the research and intellectual property of the Spiegel Lab at Yale University, and was founded by David Spiegel and Roy Prieb. The company will focus on a new class of targeted immunotherapies. The technology is Antibody Recruiting Molecules (ARMs) and Synthetic Antibody Recruiting Molecules (SyAMs). The company will try to develop ARMs and SyAMs to develop therapies for cancer and infectious diseases.

Originally the PSMA target of ARMs and SyAM were licensed by Yale to Allied-Bristol Life Sciences, a joint venture of Bristol-Myers Squibb and Allied Minds. The technology licensed to Kleo utilizes other targets and intellectual property related to ARMS and SyAMS.

One of the investors was Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company, which also inked a clinical development master services agreement with Kleo. Kleo has expertise in chemistry discovery. Biohaven brings pharmaceutical clinical development to the table.

“Strategic investments and partnerships like the one we are embarking upon with Kleo are a highly efficient way for small biotech companies to share risk and create value for its investors,” said Vlad Coric, the chief executive officer of Biohaven, in a statement. “Biohaven is funding a novel and potentially paradigm shifting technology in the cutting edge of immune-based therapies, and also lending our clinical development expertise to Kleo.”

ARMS are engineered molecules with two specific functional heads. One interacts with the molecular targets of the relevant disease molecules, and the other interacts with antibodies on the cells of the patient’s body.

SyAMs are synthetic molecules that have both the targeting and cell-activating capabilities of antibodies.

“I’ve been working on ways to use small molecules to modulate and manipulate the immune system,” Spiegel told the Yale Daily News. “Essentially we are redirecting the body’s own immune defenses to go after disease-causing entities, including bacteria, cancer cells, autoimmune disease and virus particles.”

Spiegel and Kleo have worked for the last eight years with the Yale Office of Cooperative Research and leading to the launch. It was only fairly recently that Spiegel’s work was considered robust enough to interest investors and drug companies. David Lewin, senior associate director of licensing at Yale’s OCR, indicates that while the company is basically “up and running,” this venture round will allow it to move into a “brick-and-mortar” facility in Science Park in the next six months.

“Biologics have been the gold standard for immunotherapies,” Spiegel said in a September 2 statement. “With ARMs and SyAMs, we have the opportunity to raise that bar. Our ability to rationally design and synthesize small molecules that emulate the functionality of biologics represents a great advancement in the field. Our molecules are hundreds of times lighter than their biological counterparts and thus may infiltrate tissue more efficiently than large proteins. These small molecules are easier to produce, more tractable to engineer, and non-immunogenic.”

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