VC: Kineta, Oligomerix gain fresh venture backing for R&D programs

A group of ex-oil traders who created a new private equity group dubbed Hydra has decided to back the two lead programs at Seattle-based Kineta. There's no word on just how much they're investing in the biotech, but the "major investment" will be used to develop ShK-186, a Phase I immune-sparing autoimmune disease drug, and rOAS, a pan-viral therapeutic "aimed at an array of high priority contagious pathogens" now headed into the clinic.

Kineta has already attracted more than $40 million over the past 6 years with an unusual investment model. The two chief execs, Shawn Iadonato and Chuck Magness, attract investors for individual programs with an eye to spinning them out after a few years of work. The big idea here is that investors can conceivably get a payback after a relatively short period, a big deal for biotech investors.

"We are genuinely impressed with Kineta's leadership and laser-focus on delivering high caliber R&D to larger global pharmaceutical companies. This is a nimble organization with a track record of development success. Kineta has created a unique, cost efficient and rational way to move early stage drug programs into human subjects with a focus on rapidly delivering liquidity. All of these factors went into our investment decision," explained Jamie Browne, a managing director of Hydra.

New York-based Oligomerix, meanwhile, landed a $2 million Series A round to push its work on Alzheimer's. The fledgling biotech is screening for small molecules and antibodies that target tau oligomers and their proteolytic activity. The goal now is to find a few therapies for in vivo work. The NIH has supported much of its work to date. Wheatley MedTech Partners, Wheatley New York Partners LP and Durand Venture Associates, LLC were the lead investors.

- here's the release from Kineta
- read the release from Oligomerix