KaloBios - 2009 Fierce 15

FierceBiotech 2009 Fierce 15 winner

Based: South San Francisco, CA
Founded: 2003
Website: www.kalobios.com
CEO: David Pritchard (photo)

The Scoop: KaloBios has multiple Phase I/II trials underway to deliver proof-of-concept data for two antibodies in autoimmunity, anti-infectives and cancer. The developer uses an in-house platform to create therapeutic antibodies that are a closer match to the body's natural template for antibodies, improving its chance of achieving efficacy for best-in-class therapies.

What makes it Fierce: When I caught up with CEO David Pritchard recently, he had just finished reading a piece from FierceBiotech that offered some encouraging news.

On a list of 10 therapeutics likely to lead the pharmaceuticals market in 2014, five are expected to be antibodies. And that is squarely where KaloBios is focused.

"Our strategic approach is to develop first-in-class monoclonal antibodies, which I think is what the industry needs," says Pritchard. KaloBios has three monoclonal antibodies in development, two in human trials, and each is being studied in multiple indications.

"Our first program is in inflammation," says the CEO. "We did four clinical studies and talked about one in rheumatoid arthritis and one in persistent asthma. And we have a second program, anti-pseudomonas, where we did the study in an intensive care setting with ventilator patients" who often die from pseudomonas. Another anti-pseudomonas program is in cystic fibrosis.

"All these programs are unpartnered," says Pritchard. "Our plan has always been to partner them this year, and it's going well. I think people are looking for novelty and we have really novel programs."

Just before Christmas last year KaloBios was able to announce that it had boosted its Series D by $12 million, helped along with an injection of funds from Baxter International, among others. Altogether the developer raised $37 million in the round, no small feat if you consider an economic crisis that took out Lehman Brothers, one of the company's backers.

Says Pritchard: "We were fortunate to raise the $37 million at a very high valuation that allows us to pursue three significant programs in development."

But this is biotech, and Pritchard is an experienced deal-maker. So he doesn't rule out turning partnership discussions into a buyout. One of the big pharma companies has already expressed admiration for KaloBios' track record of one IND a year, noting that's a record they can't match.

"I sold three out of four companies I've been part of before," adds the CEO, who helped orchestrate the sale of Rinat to Pfizer in 2006 for a reported $500 million. "It always happens when things are going great for you." And if that doesn't happen, there's always the chance that public markets will entertain IPOs at some point.

"Investment bankers are starting to come back to life," he adds, ever the optimist. "In 2010 it looks like there might be an IPO window."

What to look for: Partnerships, possibly a buyout, and plenty of proof-of-concept data.

Venture backers: Baxter International, Genzyme Ventures, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, MPM Capital, Sofinnova Ventures, Alloy Ventures, GBS Ventures, Singapore Bio-Innovations and 5AM Ventures.

KaloBios - 2009 Fierce 15
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