Atlas, Amgen, Lilly back Kymera’s $30M series A

Atlas-incubated Kymera Therapeutics has gotten off a $30 million series A and taken on Pierre Fabre’s R&D head as its new chief.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech is one of a handful of companies working on targeted protein degradation, which it hopes will help treat a series of diseases that has thus far proven untreatable.

The $30 million round was led by Atlas Venture—which co-founded, seeded and incubated the company—along with cash from Lilly Ventures and Amgen Ventures.

It’s also hired Pierre Fabre, Pfizer, Merck, MedImmune and Pieris vet Laurent Audoly, Ph.D., as its president and CEO.

Kymera (think chimera, a popular name in biopharma right now) is set up as a semivirtual company that teams up with a network of partners. It currently has 12 full-time employees and collaborators around the world. The company told FierceBiotech that, based on its current financing and partnerships, it expects to roughly double the number of full-time employees in the next year.

Its focus is using the body’s innate protein degradation and recycling machinery, the ubiquitin-proteasome system, to knock down disease-causing proteins, regardless of their function.

It said that its platform is “really disease agnostic. We are exploring a focused number of pathways and targets relevant to multiple disease states. So, for example, there are some pathways in oncology that are also relevant to a number of autoimmune diseases. We expect to nominate our lead candidate by the end of 2018 and that candidate may have application across multiple disease states.” This first candidate is also slated to enter the clinic by the start of the next decade.

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A number of companies are working on protein degradation, including a winner of last year’s Fierce 15, C4 Therapeutics, as well as Celgene and 2015 Fierce 15 company Arvinas, a Yale spinout.

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I asked Kymera what makes them different, and how they are approaching its platform. “Targeted protein degradation is an exciting new modality with the ability to address roughly 90% of the human proteome. So understandably, there are a number of players now getting into the space,” the company told me.

“Powered by a proprietary predictive modeling capability and a truly novel integrated degradation platform, Kymera is accelerating drug discovery and development with an unmatched ability to identify, target and degrade the most intractable of proteins.

“Kymera’s differentiated platform consists of informatics/disease centric target identification, a novel E3 ligase toolbox, proprietary ternary complex predictive modeling capabilities and degradation tools that allows us to efficiently identify and render tractable disease-causing proteins underserved by current therapeutic modalities and to design novel protein degraders with the greatest potential to impact disease.

“Our pipeline, focused on key clinically validated pathways coupled with our ability to interrogate different biology within each pathway contribute to the uniqueness of our platform.”