Cells have a built-in way of breaking down damaged or unneeded proteins. Kymera Therapeutics is trying to harness this process as a therapy—using it to get rid of disease-causing proteins. As the biotech prepares to test its technology in humans, it has now raised $65 million in financing.
The cellular process for disposing of proteins is called protein degradation. Cambridge, MA-based Kymera has developed technology that it says can design molecules that bind to the disease-causing proteins and tag them, marking them for degradation. Think of it like marking a trash bag for pickup and disposal.
Kymera calls its protein degradation technology platform Pegasus. The company says it is developing compounds with potential applications for treating cancer, autoimmune disease, and inflammatory diseases. Although the company says it will use the new capital to bring its lead drug into clinical trials, it has not yet disclosed what disease that drug will target. In addition to developing its own drugs, Kymera has a two-year drug discovery collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK).
Other companies are also pursuing protein degradation-based therapies. Cedilla Therapeutics, also based in Cambridge, launched earlier this year, backed by a $56 million Series A round. Watertown, MA-based C4 Therapeutics unveiled its protein degradation approach two years ago when it raised $73 million in its Series A round. And Arvinas (NASDAQ: ARVN) raised $120 million in its September IPO. The New Haven, CT-based biotech is planning to start clinical tests in 2019 for its experimental protein degradation therapies for prostate and breast cancers.
Last year, Kymera raised $30 million in Series A financing led by Atlas Venture, the venture capital firm that co-founded and incubated the company. Lilly Ventures and Amgen Ventures also invested in Kymera at the time. Those investors participated in Kymera’s latest financing, a Series B round, which was co-led by 6 Dimensions Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Pfizer Ventures. Other investors in the latest round include MRL Ventures Fund, Sanofi Ventures, Hatteras Venture Partners, and Aju IB Investment.
Image of slide showing prostate cancer by the National Cancer Institute