Kymab raises $100M to take antibodies into the clinic

Troy A. Pentecost has been appointed to the additional positions of president and interim senior executive officer, effective immediately.
Kymab plans to start clinical trials next year using the Series C funds.

Kymab has raised $100 million (€94 million) to fund the advance of its lead candidates into the clinic. The Series C round, which attracted new Chinese investors, brings the total raised by the early-stage British antibody specialist up to $220 million.

Cambridge, U.K.-based Kymab has pulled in that sum before moving a drug into human testing. The $100 million round led by ORI Healthcare Fund is intended to position Kymab for this next stage of its evolution. Kymab is due to move the most advanced of its human monoclonal antibodies into phase 1 next year. Beyond that, the broad pipeline of preclinical programs Kymab put together with its $120 million in Series A and B funding positions the biotech to keep pushing drugs into the clinic.

At the current count, Kymab has 16 projects across immuno-oncology, autoimmunity, hematology and infectious disease in its pipeline. An autoimmune program targeting OX40L has progressed furthest through nonclinical development. Kymab’s lead immuno-oncology candidate—a T-cell activator-agonistic antibody—is following close behind.

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Further back in discovery and preclinical, Kymab has more in-house drugs and a handful of programs it is working on with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MD Anderson Cancer Network, and fellow British biopharma Heptares Therapeutics.

The Gates Foundation helped bring Kymab to the world’s attention in 2014 when it invested $20 million in the company. The nonprofit joined with fellow existing investors Wellcome Trust, Kelly Martin’s Malin and Neil Woodford's funds to chip into the Series C, but new backers from China took center stage.

Ori Fund, a $200 million Hong Kong-based VC shop, led the round. Kymab joins Enable Injections and Pillar Biosciences on the list of companies to receive backing from Ori Fund over the past six months.

Kymab also secured cash from Shenzhen Hepalink Pharmaceutical, a publicly traded Chinese drugmaker that made its name in heparin before expanding its biologics operation.

“We have had a biologics strategy for a number of years and believe Kymab has one of the most comprehensive humanised transgenic antibody platforms which is already delivering first-in-class antibodies," Hepalink Chairman Li Li said in a statement.