With $65 Million in Hand, Kymera Will Put Its Protein Degradation Technology to the Test
Cambridge, Mass.-based Kymera Therapeutics secured $65 million in a Series B funding round that was supported, in part, by the investment arms of Pfizer and Sanofi. The funds will be used to advance Kymera’s lead targeted protein degradation asset for oncology and immunology into human trials.
Kymera’s Pegasus platform is designed to help cells target proteins found on them that could be detrimental and accelerate the development of disease. Called cellular degradation, Kymera’s technology platform “hijack and redirect the ubiquitin-proteosome system,” which is essential to the regulation of cellular process and natural protein degradation. Kymera said using its “small molecule-based knockdown strategy,” the company is capable of developing heterobifunctional molecules, or chimeras, that “recruit otherwise intractable disease-causing proteins to E3 ubiquitin ligases, resulting in the protein’s ubiquitination and subsequent degradation.” Kymera’s Pegasus platform consists of informatics-driven target identification, novel E3 ligases, proprietary ternary complex predictive modeling capabilities and degradation tools.
The technology was intriguing enough for GlaxoSmithKline to forge a partnership with Kymera back in April to drive forward with the research. The two companies are working together on a limited number of protein degradation targets. GSK and Kymera will also collaborate to discover novel E3 ligases - the enzymes that bind and target disease-causing proteins marking them for degradation.
Laurent Audoly, president and chief executive officer of Kymera Therapeutics, said over the course of 2018, the company has made “great strides” in developing preclinical data packages that support the drug-like properties of its assets, as well as their differentiated pharmacology.
“This rapid advancement has been enabled by our focused investment in Kymera's industry-leading protein degradation platform and a stellar team of drug hunters and seasoned executives,” Audoly said in a statement.
The $65 million in funding will not only be used to support the development of the company’s lead asset but also drive its therapeutic pipeline in oncology and immunology, Kymera said. The Series B was led by 6 Dimensions Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Pfizer Ventures. It was also supported by MRL Ventures Fund, Sanofi Ventures, Hatteras Venture Partners and Aju IB Investment, as well as other supporters of the Series A funding round. As part of the funding round agreement, Kymera added three new members to its board of directors: Wei Li, of 6 Dimensions Capital; Andrew Hedin of Bessemer Venture Partners and Elain Jones of Pfizer Ventures.
“This year has been marked by the maturation of our pipeline with applications across diverse target types and disease indications as well as a deeper understanding of the pharmaceutical properties required to develop protein degrading drugs,” Nello Mainolfi, Kymera’s co-founder and chief technology officer, said in a statement. “These insights have allowed us to refine our drug discovery platform and improve our ability to identify first-in-class drug candidates.”
Kymera’s Cambridge neighbor Cedilla Therapeutics, which launched earlier this year, is also exploring a similar process for treating oncology. A few other startup companies are working in this area, including Arvinas and C4 Therapeutics.