Gilead tags along again to support cell therapy biotech Kyverna in $85M fundraising

Gilead Sciences has tagged along on Kyverna Therapeutics’ journey as a startup since the beginning, and, now, the Big Pharma has helped stock up the cell therapy biotech in an $85 million financing round to prepare for a launch into the clinic this year.

Leading the series B financing was Northpond Ventures, but Kyverna also attracted investment from RTW Investments, Vida Ventures and others. Another name that sticks out on the list is Intellia, which just signed a deal with Kyverna to develop therapies for autoimmune diseases using the gene editing biotech’s CRISPR/Cas9 platform.

Kyverna, which focuses on autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, will use the funds to advance KYV-101 into the clinic for diseases such as lupus nephritis, systemic sclerosis and inflammatory myopathies. KYV-101 is an anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy that has been developed for use in B-cell-driven autoimmune diseases. The therapy is expected to hit the clinic in the first half of this year.

The funds will also help with Kyverna’s recent Intellia partnership. Kyverna said proceeds will support development of KYV-201 in B-cell-driven autoimmune diseases, using the biotech’s CD19 CAR-T construct and Intellia’s ex vivo CRISPR/Cas9-based allogeneic platform. The companies did not detail the financial arrangements behind the partnership when it was announced earlier this month.

RELATED: Intellia bags option on autoimmune CAR-T prospect, handing Kyverna rights to use CRISPR tech to create off-the-shelf cell therapy 

Finally, Kyverna will work on its synReg T-cell platform to engineer synthetic versions of regulatory T cells, which suppress immune responses in the body.

Kyverna will pick up a new board member from the financing, Northpond Ventures Director Shaan Gandhi, M.D., while RTW Senior Analyst Chris Liu, Ph.D., will join as board observer.

The biotech launched in 2020 with a $25 million series A. At the time, the company announced a strategic partnership with Gilead to develop engineered T-cell therapies for autoimmune diseases. Gilead made an upfront payment of $17.5 million, with an additional $570 in development and commercialization milestones possible for Kyverna down the line.