Kymab Group Ltd, a leading biopharmaceutical start-up based at the Ferris Bueller-esque sounding Babraham Research Campus a few miles from the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, has landed £100m of fresh investment, in a Series C round led by ORI Healthcare Fund.
Also joining the round are Shenzhen Hepalink Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. plus existing investors the Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Malin Corporation, CF Woodford Equity Income Fund and Woodford Patient Capital plc.
As influential a collection of investors as you are likely to find backing a bio-pharmaceutical project, Kymab say the funds will be allocated to “advance its proprietary pipe-line of first-in-class therapeutic human monoclonal antibodies, the first of which is commencing clinical development in 2017.”
Kymab’s CEO Dr. Dave Chiswell welcomed new investors and thanked existing ones in a statement in which he also outlined his plans to “build Kymab into a sustainable global biopharmaceutical company with a pipeline of products in four main therapeutic areas; immune-oncology, auto-immunity, haemotology and infectious disease.”
Dr. Chiswell stressed the usefulness of Hepalink’s “global reach for their products” as well as their biologics manufacturing capabilities in the US. “This investment will help us maximise the potential of the Kymab pipeline as we develop and commercialise monoclonal antibody medicines for patients world-wide”, Dr. Chiswell said.
Simone Song, a Senior partner of the ORI Fund, described Kymab as “equipped with world class technologies, world class programs, a world class team and world class investors”, whilst Mr Li Li, President and Chairman of Hepalink said he was “pleased to invest in a world leading antibody company and look forward to potential collaborative opportunities with Kymab.”
Kymab’s flagship “product” is a “transgenic human antibody platform” know as Kymouse, which is used to “discover and develop fully human monoclonal antibody drugs.”
According to research in Nature Biotechnology, the Kymouse technology “yields an antibody library constituted from 100 trillion different antibodies, from which high quality antibodies can be used to develop antibody based therapeutics”, the firm says.
In a press release Kymab revealed that five of the top ten best selling drugs worldwide are antibodies, such as oncological treatments bevacizumab and trastuzumab, and adalimumab and infliximab which are used to treat autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.
Kymab’s Series C round brings its total fundraising to $220.4m across 4 rounds. The company was founded in 2010 by Professor Allan Bradley, based on research he had carried out at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the company website says.
After raising $30m equity financing from the Wellcome Trust Kymab focused on the development of its Kymouse platform “which encompasses the entire diversity of the B lymphocyte component of the human immune system.”
In 2014 Kymab won further investment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, of $40m, and a further $50m in the following year.
Kymab now employs 100 staff with a mission statement that includes “delivering modern medicines on a unique and proven platform, being an effective global partner in ameliorating global diseases, and to “realise unique opportunities for partners and value for investors from our unique approach.”
The company say that they “are building a rich pipeline of assets” across the four main therapeutic spaces (mentioned above) and that their most advanced assets entered development in 2015 with first proof of concepts scheduled for readout by 2019.
The platform contains more than 5.4m base-pairs of the human immunoglobulin genes, more than any other model in existence, and, “because the human antibodies are produced through the normal and natural process of maturation, they evolve from molecules with good drug-like properties to drugs with exceptional potency, stability and solubility”, say Kymab, and “when these antibody genes are transferred into mammalian expression systems the recombitant molecules are reliably expressed at high levels.”
Besides antibody discovery, Kymab also develops Bispecific antibodies, vaccines and innovative antibodies.
Look outside London for the most innovative developments in science and technology
As the government outlined its plans yesterday to set aside a £23 billion fund for developing the country’s technological and transport infrastructure, which includes building a rail link between Oxford and Cambridge, the evidence seems to suggest that, despite London’s much-vaunted tech start-up ecosystem, the biggest strides in industries such as health-tech, clean-tech, and green technologies are being made outside the capital, and particularly in hotspots around the United Kingdom’s 2 most famous old University towns.
Given the calibre of Kymab’s investors and the scientific progress the company is making, there’s no shame in that. London is too crowded, and expensive, to provide the space and facilities companies like Kymab require to be successful.