MedImmune vets launch biotech with $10M Series A

A group of MedImmune veterans has joined forces to launch a start-up with some new technology out of the Scripps Institute in La Jolla, CA. And they're concentrating their efforts in their old stomping grounds around Montgomery County, MD.

Zyngenia is being helmed by Peter Kiener, who had headed up R&D at MedImmune. David Mott, the former MedImmune CEO and now general partner at New Enterprise Associates, has come on board as chairman, helping him keep a close eye on NEA's new $10 million Series A for the company. And Joseph Amprey, the former head of MedImmune Ventures, is the chief business officer.

They'll be working with Carlos F. Barbas, III, who has been developing antibody-like molecules that can simultaneously target two or more targets. Zyngenia's initial focus will be on cancer and autoimmune diseases. Barbas is also no stranger to commercial development work. He is credited with founding Cov-X Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Pfizer) and Prolifaron (acquired by Alexion).

"We believe we're going to make a significant impact," Kiener tells FierceBiotech. There are a number of developers with bi-specific programs, he notes, but they've experienced trouble achieving the kind of stability and purification that's needed. Barbas' work will put Zyngenia on track to create tri-specific molecules with an antibody at the core, allowing a single, stable agent to target multiple cancers or multiple autoimmune diseases. And they'll have a distinct advantage over the combination therapies that are now in the pipeline.

For now Zyngenia is a virtual company, with three employees scattered around the country. But Kiener is lining up office and lab space in Montgomery County and plans to hire 20 people as he builds a wet lab for the work ahead.

- read the Zyngenia release