Unconventional Kineta adds to its bankroll for autoimmune program

A Seattle-based biotech with an unconventional approach to raising venture cash has added $5.8 million to its coffers as it preps an early-stage study of an experimental diabetes drug. Kineta--a developer launched 5 years ago by Chuck Magness and Shawn Iadonato after they sold Illumigen Biosciences to Cubist, filed papers with the SEC on the cash several days ago.

The Iacocca Family Foundation has played a big role in backing the company, proffering cash twice. And Xconomy's Luke Timmerman, who profiled the company in June, says the financing network includes a long string of investors, including industry executives as well as MPI Research, along with grant money that has been split with investigators. NIH has been an active backer, supporting work on Kineta's discovery stage RIG-I antiviral program and a preclinical autoimmune program with applications related to multiple sclerosis.

Kineta's autoimmune work has been focused on ShK-186, a lead program for autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. The biotech picked up development rights to the drug three years ago from the University of California, Irvine and Airmid after inspecting animal data demonstrating its ability to reverse MS and rheumatoid arthritis.

Kineta had already raised $38 million by the time the two founders discussed their plans with Xconomy, noting that their game plan is to advance preclinical programs through Phase I and then spinning them off to pharma partners anxious to beef up their pipelines with promising drug candidates. Under the right circumstances, its investors can look for returns in a few years, rather than wait much longer in hopes of netting a big windfall on a star program. And Kineta has pushed this far without relying on the traditional venture players you'll find behind most startups.

- see the SEC report
- here's the report from Xconomy
- and the profile from Xconomy