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LifeArc takes $30m equity stake in Kymab, gains access to antibody tech

Keytruda windfall helps research charity invest

Kymab

Kymab's HQ at the Babraham campus, Cambridge, UK

UK medical research charity LifeArc is to take a $30m equity stake in biotech company Kymab, and will access its antibody platform to further its drug discovery efforts.

Cambridge, UK-based Kymab is focused on developing antibody-based therapeutics, and has built a series of unique drug discovery platforms.

Their IntelliSelect platforms consist of various genetically engineered mouse strains, including one called Darwin, its new transgenic platform. These, and a human antibody screening platform can be combined to rapidly deliver candidate therapeutics with the most desirable drug-like properties.

The partnership gives LifeArc the chance to develop its antibody drug discovery capabilities using Kymab’s tailored technologies, with the potential for drug discovery and new therapies.

LifeArc is to make an initial $10m equity investment in Kymab, with a further $20m to follow. Kymab will also receive a percentage of revenues from any products discovered and commercialised by LifeArc using its technologies.

Melanie Lee, CEO of LifeArc, said: “At LifeArc, our focus is to translate promising research into direct benefits for human health and we have been highly successful in this, particularly in the area of antibody engineering. This unique opportunity with Kymab provides us with a new technology platform to rapidly generate the best antibodies across a range of therapeutic targets.”

This is just one of LifeArc’s collaborative efforts, with the charity most recently teaming up with Medicines Discovery Catapult in May.

The new investment has been made possible by a big step forward for LifeArc - a $1.29bn royalty deal based on its role in developing immuno-oncology blockbuster Keytruda. This is thanks to LifeArc’s work (then known as MRC Technology) in humanising the mouse antibody on which Keytruda was based – thus the new Kymab collaboration is building on this expertise and heritage.

For Kymab, the investment is a significant one, as it is now ramping up investment as it advances its lead molecules into clinical development.

Its most advanced programme is anti-OX40-Ligand (OX40L), which is now entering phase 2 development in atopic dermatitis, with results expected in the first half of 2020.

Kymab is said to be preparing for a US IPO, and recently appointed Simon Sturge as its new chief executive.

Simon Sturge

Simon Sturge

Simon Sturge, CEO of Kymab, said: “I am delighted that LifeArc, with its focus on transformational medical research which has led to drugs such as Keytruda, has chosen our IntelliSelect platforms for their future antibody discovery programmes. LifeArc has a proven track record in discovering innovative, life-changing medicines for patients, and I look forward to our working together on therapeutic programmes that have the potential to transform patient’s lives.”

25th June 2019

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