Dominic Borie, Kyverna Therapeutics CEO

Well-con­nect­ed, Gilead-backed biotech gets an­oth­er stack of cash to pur­sue CAR-Ts for au­toim­mune dis­ease

Al­most ex­act­ly two years af­ter its de­but at the 2020 JP Mor­gan con­fab — and on the heels of a new part­ner­ship with the gene edit­ing ex­perts at In­tel­lia — a Gilead-backed, au­toim­mune dis­ease-fo­cused start­up has re­turned to the well with a clear­er out­line of just what it plans to do with its CAR-T plat­form.

Kyver­na brought in $85 mil­lion in its over­sub­scribed Se­ries B, the com­pa­ny an­nounced Wednes­day. North­pond Ven­tures led the round, and West­lake Vil­lage BioPart­ners, Vi­da Ven­tures, Gilead and In­tel­lia all con­tributed as well.

The mon­ey will go to­ward ad­vanc­ing lead can­di­date KYV-101, an au­tol­o­gous an­ti-CD19 CAR-T ther­a­py tar­get­ing au­toim­mune dis­eases such as lu­pus nephri­tis, sys­temic scle­ro­sis and in­flam­ma­to­ry my­opathies. The ther­a­py is head­ed to clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, if all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, in the first half of this year.

Hav­ing li­censed the CD19 con­struct from the NIH, the biotech holds the rights to use it al­so in al­lo­gene­ic can­di­dates.

Kyn­er­va is de­vel­op­ing CAR-T cell ther­a­pies from both au­tol­o­gous and al­lo­gene­ic sources, as well as a syn­thet­ic ver­sion of Tregs. The com­pa­ny raised $25 mil­lion in a Se­ries A round back in 2020. Gilead was a key backer in that round, and inked a li­cense agree­ment to de­vel­op en­gi­neered T cell ther­a­pies based on its Treg plat­form and syn­Notch tech­nol­o­gy from Kite, the Gilead sub­sidiary. Un­der that deal, Kyver­na took on the re­search and clin­i­cal du­ties through proof-of-con­cept.

The funds from the Se­ries B will al­so help fu­el the de­vel­op­ment of KYV-201, for which In­tel­lia and Kyver­na have an ex­clu­sive part­ner­ship. One of the lead­ing gene edit­ing com­pa­nies, In­tel­lia made noise in Sep­tem­ber when the FDA ac­cept­ed its IND ap­pli­ca­tion for the ex­per­i­men­tal acute myeloid leukemia treat­ment NT­LA-5001. The deal, an­nounced just a few weeks ago, gives Kyver­na ex­clu­sive rights to In­tel­lia’s al­lo­gene­ic cell en­gi­neer­ing plat­form to de­vel­op KYV-201. In ex­change, In­tel­lia gets an eq­ui­ty stake and cer­tain de­vel­op­men­tal and com­mer­cial mile­stones, as well as roy­al­ties on fu­ture sales.

In­tel­lia al­so has an op­tion to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize KYV-201; in that case, it would fork over an opt-in fee and share half the de­vel­op­ment costs and fu­ture sales rev­enue.

“One thing that drew me to Kyver­na is the de­sire to be there from the very be­gin­ning, be in­volved in what can be a rev­o­lu­tion in the way we treat pa­tients with au­toim­mune dis­ease,” CEO Do­minic Borie said in an in­ter­view with End­points News. “Cell ther­a­py is go­ing to be trans­for­ma­tion­al for our pa­tients. I think it’s very ex­cit­ing to be lead­ing a com­pa­ny that is fo­cused 100% on that.”

Just a few months ago, Kyver­na land­ed for­mer Genen­tech CEO Ian Clark as its new chair of the board of di­rec­tors, and Karen Walk­er as chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer. As it goes for­ward in hir­ing more em­ploy­ees to keep up with the growth tak­ing shape, Borie said that a team will be built out un­der Walk­er.

“She will be in­stru­men­tal in de­vel­op­ing our man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” he said. “We’ll build un­der her a very strong team that will com­ple­ment our R&D op­er­a­tions.”

Borie said that in ad­di­tion to the part­ner­ships with Gilead and In­tel­lia, Kyver­na is work­ing to­ward adding even more “in both di­rec­tions,” he said.

As part of the fi­nanc­ing, North­pond di­rec­tor Shaan Gand­hi and RTW’s Chris Liu will join as Kyver­na’s board mem­bers and ob­servers, re­spec­tive­ly.

“When it comes to treat­ing au­toim­mune dis­eases, the in­dus­try has reached a sci­en­tif­ic tip­ping point,” Gand­hi said. “The cell ther­a­pies in Kyver­na’s pipeline hold sig­nif­i­cant promise for mod­u­lat­ing the im­mune sys­tem in such a way as to achieve op­ti­mal and long-last­ing dis­ease con­trol.”

Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

How Pur­due's $272M ad­dic­tion pay­out fund­ed a new home for its dis­card­ed non-opi­oid re­search

Don Kyle spent more than 20 years working for Purdue Pharma, right through the US opioid epidemic that led to the company’s rise and eventual infamy. But contrary to Purdue’s focus on OxyContin, Kyle was researching non-opioid painkillers — that is, until the company shelved his research.

As the company’s legal troubles mounted, Kyle found an unlikely way to reboot the project. In 2019, he took his work to an Oklahoma State University center that’s slated to receive more than two-thirds of the state’s $272 million settlement with Purdue over claims that the drugmaker’s behavior ignited the epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

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President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

The drug pric­ing pres­i­dent: Biden warns of ve­to for any IRA re­peal at­tempts

President Joe Biden made clear in his “finish the job” State of the Union address last night that one of those jobs to be finished is insulin prices.

Biden’s push again to tackle insulin prices, after Republicans rebuffed the idea last summer and just after Biden won Medicare drug price negotiations/caps via the Inflation Reduction Act, shows how heavily he’s leaning into this work.

Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers Squibb head of research and early development

Up­dat­ed: R&D tur­bu­lence at Bris­tol My­ers now in­cludes the end of a $650M al­liance and the de­par­ture of a top re­search cham­pi­on

This morning biotech Dragonfly put out word that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back all rights to its IL-12 clinical-stage drug after spending $650 million to advance it into the clinic.

The news arrives amid a turbulent R&D stage for the pharma giant, which late last week highlighted Rupert Vessey’s decision to depart this summer as head of early-stage R&D following a crucial three-year stretch after he jumped to Bristol Myers in the big Celgene buyout. During that time he struck a series of deals for Bristol Myers, and also shepherded a number of Celgene programs down the pipeline, playing a major role for a lineup of biotechs which depended on him to champion their drugs.

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Utpal Koppikar, new Verily CFO

Ex­clu­sive: Ver­i­ly wel­comes Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics vet­er­an as new CFO

Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences outfit, has plucked a new CFO from the ranks of Atara Biotherapeutics, the company announced on Wednesday.

Utpal Koppikar joins Verily after a nearly five-year stint as CFO and senior VP at Atara, though his résumé also boasts roles at Gilead and Amgen.

The news follows a major reshuffling at Verily, including several senior departures earlier this year and a round of layoffs.

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Bill Haney, Dragonfly CEO (Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW)

Drag­on­fly chief: Bris­tol My­ers shouldn’t blame IL-12’s clin­i­cal per­for­mance for de­ci­sion to scrap the deal — eco­nom­ics played a key role

Bristol Myers Squibb says the IL-12 drug they were developing out of Dragonfly Therapeutics was scrubbed from the pipeline for a simple reason: It didn’t measure up on clinical performance.

But Bill Haney, the CEO of Dragonfly, is taking issue with that.

The early-stage drug, still in Phase I development, has passed muster with Bristol Myers’ general clinical expectations, advancing successfully while still in Phase I, he says.

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Singer Nick Jonas is back at work for Dexcom, this time for its new G7 glucose monitor.

Dex­com's spokescelebri­ty Nick Jonas re­turns to Su­per Bowl in new glu­cose mon­i­tor com­mer­cial

Dexcom is going back to the Super Bowl with its pop singer and patient spokesperson Nick Jonas. Jonas takes center stage as the lone figure in the 30-second commercial showcasing Dexcom’s next-generation G7 continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device.

Jonas’ sleight-of-hand tricks populate the commercial — he pinches his empty fingers together and pops them open to reveal the small CGM — even as he ends the ad, saying, “It’s not magic. It just feels that way.” Jonas then disappears in a puff of smoke.

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Richard Francis, newly-appointed Teva CEO (Novartis via Facebook)

New Te­va CEO Richard Fran­cis repri­or­i­tizes to 'get back to growth'

Six weeks into his new role at the helm of Teva Pharmaceutical, Richard Francis said it’s time to “get back to growth,” starting with a good look at the company’s priorities.

The chief executive has kicked off a strategic review, he announced during Teva’s quarterly call, which will continue over the next several months and produce results sometime in the middle of 2023. That means some pipeline cuts may be in store, he told Endpoints News, while declining to offer much more detail.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8, 2023 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FDA com­mis­sion­er floats ideas on how to bet­ter han­dle the pan­dem­ic

FDA Commissioner Rob Califf joined the heads of the CDC and NIH in the hot seat today before a key House subcommittee, explaining that there needs to be a much faster, more coordinated way to oversee vaccine safety, and that foreign biopharma inspections, halted for years due to the pandemic, are slowly ramping up again.

Califf, who stressed to the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health that the CDC also needs better data, made clear that the FDA’s ability to monitor the safety of vaccines “would also benefit greatly by a coordinated federal public health data reporting authority.”

Sanofi is renewing its #VaccinesForDreams campaign with more stories, such as Juan's in Argentina (Sanofi)

Sanofi re­news so­cial cam­paign to re­mind that vac­cines let peo­ple ‘Dream Big’

Sanofi is highlighting people’s dreams — both big and small — to make the point that vaccines make them possible.

The renewed “Dream Big” global social media campaign’s newest dreamer is Juan, a teacher in the Misiones rainforest in Argentina whose story is told through videos on Instagram and Sanofi’s website with the hashtag #VaccinesForDreams.

The campaign ties to Sanofi’s broader umbrella initiative “Vaccine Stories” to promote the value of vaccines and drive awareness of the need for improved vaccination coverage.

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