Kineta Pulls in $5.8M for Autoimmune Drug

Xconomy Seattle — 

Seattle-based Kineta has continued raising cash to fuel its unconventional business model for drug development.

Kineta One, a unit within the Kineta parent company, has raised $5.8 million in new equity financing from a group of 133 investors, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The money will be used to develop a drug called ShK-186 a drug program that Kineta says has potential against various autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, and lupus, says Meg O’Conor, the company’s investor relations director.

The experimental drug, a biologic molecule developed in collaboration with George Chandy and Jonathan Lakey at the University of California Irvine, is designed to inhibit the Kv1.3 potassium channel and is supposed to selectively bind with effector memory T-cells. The Iacocca Family Foundation, the philanthropy created by longtime auto exec Lee Iacocca in 1984, has invested in the program because of its potential in fighting Type 1 diabetes. The foundation said last month in a statement that animal studies show the Kineta drug is effective at tamping down excessive immune reactions without suppressing the overall immune system, which might make people vulnerable to infections.

Kineta, which I profiled in June, is avoiding traditional venture capital and instead looking to advance its R&D through an array of close academic collaborations, government grants, angel investment, and philanthropy. The company has another subsidiary focused on developing an antiviral drug. The business strategy at Kineta is to take its programs through animal testing and early human trials, and generate returns for its investors when a Big Pharma or biotech partner picks up the asset for later-stage development.

“July was a great month for us and in fact was our best month ever for fundraising,” O’Conor says in an e-mail. “The whole team is very enthusiastic as we head into first-in-human trials.”