Edinburgh University spin-out wins £9m funding

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Kynos Therapeutics came out of ‘stealth mode’ with £9m to fund its leading KMO inhibitor program through phase 1 clinical trials.

The University of Edinburgh spin-out is based on more than a decade of research into the kynurenine pathway and the biology of kynurenine 3-monooxygenase (KMO) and its inhibitors.

Its technology was co-developed during a multi-year collaboration program between the university founders and GSK. The collaboration ended in 2019, with the transfer of data, rights and intellectual property to the university – although GSK is eligible for a royalty if a drug is registered.

The initial £6.5m funding round was led by Epidarex Capital, joined by IP Group and Scottish Enterprise.

Kynos has also received £2.5 million under an Innovate UK grant to fund a first-in-man clinical trial.

KMO plays a major role in controlling inflammation and metabolism, helping to regulate 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.

Kynos’ pipeline focuses on three key areas: in severe postoperative disease; under conditions driven by inflammation; and in cancers where inflammation prevents the immune system from fighting back.

The funding will be used to strengthen its core team and fund preclinical indication extension studies, as well as initiate the development of oral formulations of KMO inhibitors. These activities will take place in parallel with the clinical trial.

The founding team of Kynos is made up of experts in KMO biology and medicinal chemistry: Chief Executive Damian J Mole, Professor of Surgery at the University of Edinburgh’s Center for Inflammation Research; and Scientific Director Scott Webster, professor of drug discovery at the university’s Center for Cardiovascular Sciences.

The industry engagement and spin-off company launch was supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the marketing arm of the University of Edinburgh.

Mole explained, “Our goal is to improve health and positively impact patients by expanding our program in the therapeutic area of ​​inflammation and immunometabolism.

“Our programs are based on extensive industry collaborative research with a strong scientific foundation backed by multiple high-impact publications – there are no drugs approved or marketed for our introductory indication, for which there are a significant unmet need.”

Following the financing, Dr. Elizabeth Roper, Partner at Epidarex Capital, and Dr. Tassos Konstantinou, Investment Director for Life Sciences at IP Group, joined Kynos’ Board of Directors.

Roper said: “Kynos has a suite of best-in-class KMO inhibitors that we believe have potential in several therapeutic areas – we look forward to working closely with the team and the union to advance these assets into the clinic and realizing the potential of Kynos’ world-class science.

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