Kymab pockets $50M from some A-list U.K. backers

Neil Woodford

U.K. biotech Kymab has added Neil Woodford and the newly launched Malin to its who's-who syndicate of investors, adding $50 million to its B round and accelerating its pipeline.

The latest funds, courtesy of Woodford's Patient Capital Trust and the Elan veterans at Malin, follow a $40 million tranche closed last year from the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. With the cash, Kymab is deepening its investment in Kymouse, a genetically engineered mouse platform that allows researchers to generate a wealth of fully human antibodies against a variety of targets.

The technology has yielded a library of more than 100 trillion antibodies, Kymab said, and its promise has lured R&D partners including Novo Nordisk ($NVO), the Sanger Institute and the Gates Foundation. Now the biotech is doubling down on its in-house efforts, pointing to a slew of preclinical, Kymouse-powered treatments including antibodies for the inflammation-related OX40L pathway and PD-L1, a hot target in immuno-oncology.

Malin, an Irish-headquartered biotech investor founded this year, took flight in March with a €330 million ($357 million) IPO, promising its backers that it can pick winners in biotech and tying its fees to the success of its investments. And Kymab, rolling toward the clinic with some promising treatments, fits that strategy, Malin Director and ex-Elan CEO Kelly Martin said.

"Kymab has assembled a talented leadership team; an efficient and effective discovery platform with broad application demonstrated by the pipeline of product opportunities already established," Kelly, who is joining the biotech's board, said in a statement.

Woodford's contribution comes from a $1.2 billion new fund unveiled last month, designed to make wagers on emerging biotech companies and publicly traded drugmakers alike.

Kymab's up-sized B round follows a $30 million Series A closed in 2010. The company, a 2010 Fierce 15 honoree, spun out of the Sanger Institute in 2009.

- read the statement (PDF)

Special Report: The 2010 Fierce 15 - Kymab