Targeted Protein Degradation and the Rise of Kymera Therapeutics

Targeted protein degradation (TPD), as a mechanism to target previously untreatable conditions, was one of the key highlights of the year 2019. In an article published late last year, we discussed, in detail, the epic rise in the popularity of TPD.

What is targeted protein degradation?

Targeted protein degradation is an emerging modality that allows access to difficult-to-treat diseases. While conventional medicines such as small molecule inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies address fewer than 20% of the proteome, targeted degradation offers a unique means to tap into the rest of the vast, unexplored proteome. Through this, a disease can be addressed by controlling the amount of a harmful protein rather than trying to modulate or inhibit its function. The control of protein levels is accomplished with a small molecule drug called a protein degrader.

Growing Interest in Targeted Protein Degradation as a Therapeutic Modality

Who are the key developers in targeted protein degradation?

Owing to extensive research in this domain, multiple protein-degradation-focused biotech firms have emerged with ample funding. In addition, big pharma companies, including Boehringer IngelheimCelgeneNovartis, and Pfizer have launched internal efforts and forged partnerships to explore the modality. Recently, Boehringer Ingelheim and the University of Dundee extended their collaboration for the development of PROTAC based drugs to treat cancer, building on the success of their ongoing alliance. Similarly, Novartis collaborated with the University of California, Berkeley to establish the Novartis-Berkeley Center for Proteomics and Chemistry Technologies. The center combines Novartis’ expertise in chemical biology with Berkeley’s expertise in covalent chemoproteomics

What is the big news about Kymera Therapeutics?

Kymera Therapeutics has been one of the pioneers in the field of TPD. It has been using its proprietary Pegasus technology, what it calls a game-changing integrated degradation platform, to attack inflammation-related diseases. In fact, as per the company’s website, it has around 7 programs in its pipeline for the treatment of inflammatory/immunology/oncology disorders. Here is an overview of the company’s pipeline.

Today, the company announced a series C investment of USD 102 million. This round was led by Biotechnology Value Fund (BVF) and Redmile Group. In addition, other participants including Wellington Management Company, Bain Capital Life Sciences, funds managed by Janus Henderson Investors and BlackRock, Rock Springs Capital and a large US-based, healthcare-focused fund, also joined the funding round. Morever, the existing investors also participated in the round.

Importantly, the company also received a strategic investment from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society‘s Therapy Acceleration Program® (LLS TAP) directed toward advancing the company’s work to treat blood-based cancers.

Here is a video by the company’s Founder, President & CEO highlighting the key elements of Kymera’s platform.

How much funding has this space attracted to date?

As per a market research report released by Roots Analysis, more than USD 3.5 billion has been invested in targeted protein degradation. Recently, we have witnessed investments across other players, as well.

Interestingly, more than 34% of the funding amount has been invested by venture capital firms. Examples of companies that have received significant venture capital funding include Vividion Therapeutics, Kronos Bio, and Kymera Therapeutics.

Who are the key investors in targeted protein degradation?

Several investors have supported diverse initiatives undertaken by small/mid-sized companies. Prominent examples include (indicative list) RA Capital Management, Atlas Ventures, Novartis Bioventures, and 5AM Ventures.

To know more about the market, feel free to get in touch.