Kynos Therapeutics, a spinout company launched with Edinburgh Innovations' support, has raised £9 million to progress development of therapies at the interface of inflammation, immunity and metabolism.
Kynos was spun out from the University of Edinburgh based on more than a decade of research in the kynurenine pathway and kynurenine 3-monooxygenase (KMO) biology and its inhibitors. The funding will finance its lead KMO inhibitor programme through Phase 1 clinical trials and progress its innovative pipeline of first-in-class KMO inhibitors.
The £6.5 million initial venture financing round was led by Epidarex Capital, joined by IP Group and Scottish Enterprise. Kynos has also been awarded £2.5 million through an Innovate UK grant to fund a first-time in human Phase 1 clinical trial of its lead KMOi, KNS366. Kynos has a completed IND-enabling package and is preparing to start a single ascending dose study with biomarker analysis.
KMO plays a major role in the control of inflammation and metabolism, contributing to the regulation of the immune system. It is a mitochondrial enzyme that converts kynurenine into biologically active 3HK that damages cells. Blocking KMO reduces 3HK, protecting against tissue damage.
Post-surgery illness, inflammation and cancer
Kynos’s pipeline is focused on three key areas: in critical illness post-surgery; in conditions driven by inflammation; and in cancers where inflammation is preventing the immune system from fighting back. This financing will be used to build out its core team and to fund preclinical indication expansion studies as well as to initiate development of oral formulations of KMO inhibitors. These activities will run in parallel to the Innovate UK-funded Phase 1 clinical trial in humans.
Kynos’s founding academic researchers are leading experts in KMO biology and medicinal chemistry with clinical, translational and drug discovery experience: CEO Damian Mole, Professor of Surgery and MRC Senior Clinical Fellow at the University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research; and CSO Scott Webster, Professor of Medicines Discovery at the Centre for Cardiovascular Science, University of Edinburgh.
Its technology and KMOis were co-developed during a multi-year collaborative programme between the academic founders and GSK. The collaboration concluded in 2019 and data packages and all rights and intellectual property were transferred to the University. GSK is eligible for a royalty should a medicine be registered.
Edinburgh Innovations support
Edinburgh Innovations has supported the team throughout the industry engagement process and the launch of the spin-out company. The company is based at EI's Enterprise Hub on the University's King's Buildings campus.
Professor Damian Mole, CEO of Kynos Therapeutics, said:
Our goal is to improve health and make a positive impact for patients, by developing our programme in the therapeutic area of inflammation and immunometabolism. We are very excited by the potential of our first-in-class KMO inhibitors and we are ready to enter the clinic with our lead asset.
Our programmes are based on extensive industry collaborative research with a robust science base supported by multiple high impact publications. There are no approved or marketed medicines for our gateway indication, for which there is a significant unmet need.
Following the Financing, Dr Elizabeth Roper, Partner at Epidarex Capital, and Dr Tassos Konstantinou, Investment Manager, Life Sciences at IP Group plc, have joined Kynos’s board of directors.
Dr Elizabeth Roper, Partner at Epidarex Capital and Kynos Investor Director, said:
Kynos has a first-in-class set of KMO inhibitors that we believe have potential in multiple therapeutic areas. We look forward to working closely with the team and the syndicate to progress these assets into the clinic and to realise the potential of Kynos’s world-class science.
Dr Sam Williams, Managing Partner of Life Sciences at IP Group plc, said:
KMO is rapidly becoming a target of great interest in drug discovery. IP Group is excited to support Kynos as it seeks to become a leading player in the KMO field and develop inhibitors with the potential to transform patients’ lives across multiple indications.
Kerry Sharp, Director of Growth Investments at Scottish Enterprise said:
Scotland is globally renowned for its strengths in life sciences because of our innovative companies, incredible talent and world-class universities. Supporting companies in this sector, such as Kynos Therapeutics, to progress its ground-breaking medical research is a priority for Scottish Enterprise. Kynos is developing an innovative portfolio of first-in-class medicines and this funding will help deliver therapies for patients impacted by inflammatory conditions.
Photograph: Professor Scott Webster, left, and Professor Damian Mole, CSO and and CEO of Kynos Therapeutics.