LifeArc makes $30M Kymab investment to access antibody tech

Kymab building
Kymab is granting LifeArc access to its IntelliSelect platforms, a suite of technologies made up of several genetically engineered mouse strains. (Kymab)

Kymab is set to receive a $30 million (€26 million) investment from LifeArc in return for access to antibody discovery technologies. 

Self-funded medical research charity LifeArc, formerly known as MRC Technology, is flush from the sale of a portion of its Keytruda royalty stream for $1.3 billion. LifeArc secured the royalties in return for work it did to humanize the antibody-based therapy early in its development. That deal has paid off in spades for LifeArc, positioning it to make investments in more research programs.

The Kymab deal is part of that effort. LifeArc is making a $10 million investment in Kymab, joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the list of backers of the IPO-bound British biotech. The agreement commits LifeArc to investing an additional $20 million in Kymab in the future.  

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In return, Kymab is granting LifeArc access to its IntelliSelect platforms, a suite of technologies made up of several genetically engineered mouse strains. The IntelliSelect Transgenic technologies generate antibodies that are then screened by sister platforms that use single-cell sequencing, genomics and bioinformatic algorithms to identify candidates with the most desirable properties. 

Kymab used some of the technologies to guide anti-OX40L and anti-ICOS antibodies into human testing in the treatment of atopic dermatitis and solid tumors, respectively, and has continued to add capabilities as the programs have advanced. LifeArc’s deal grants it access to Kymab’s new transgenic platform, Darwin.

Researchers at LifeArc will use the technologies in their work on antibodies. If the Kymab platforms are used in the development of products that come to market, the biotech will receive a percentage of any sales they generate. 

The exchange gives Kymab a cash boost and way to expand use of the platforms beyond its current capacity as it prepares for the next stage in its evolution. Having raised a $100 million series C round late in 2016, Kymab filed confidentially to go public in the U.S. earlier this year. The IPO filing is yet to be made publicly available but is likely to set out Kymab’s spending plans for a period that will cover the delivery of its first clinical proof-of-concept data in 2020.

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