Kahr Medical leans on Korean VCs to raise $12M for oncology R&D

Kahr Medical has turned to Korean investors for a $12 million (€11 million) Series B round. And, with a further $3 million due to land in its bank account in mid-February, the protein-based drug specialist is now equipped to move its lead candidate through a Phase I/IIa lymphoma trial.

The big idea behind Kahr is to use technology developed at the University of Pennsylvania and the Hadassah Medical Center to create fusion proteins with two functional ends. With the functional ends acting on two distinct pathways simultaneously, Kahr thinks it can achieve therapeutic effects beyond what is possible when proteins are administered individually. Kahr has applied this thinking to the creation of its lead candidate, KAHR-102, which fuses extracellular portions of CTLA-4 protein and the TNF-family ligand FasL.

Jerusalem, Israel-based Kahr is hoping KAHR-102 will cause cell death by activating the FAS receptor, while also targeting B7 receptors to block aspects of the immune response. The idea is now set to be tested in the clinic. Kahr recently picked up an approval to start a Phase I/IIa trial of KAHR-102 from Israeli authorities, moving it to a point at which it required fresh capital to advance. The $12 million Series B provides that capital. Most of the cash will go into KAHR-102, with Kahr keeping some back to advance another candidate through the final stages of preclinical development.

Kahr last raised money in 2012, at which time Sanofi ($SNY) chipped cash into an $8 million Series A round. Sanofi's name is nowhere to be seen in the details of the Series B round, though. Kahr has instead relied on three new investors from Korea. Korea Investment Partners, Mirae Asset Venture Investment and DSC Investment have all come on board, joining with existing investor Flerie Invest, a Swedish VC shop run by Recipharm CEO Thomas Eldered, for the Series B round. 

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