Collaboration Brings Together Gilead’s Commitment to Advancing Cell Therapy with Kyverna’s Focus on Advanced T Cell Engineering Targeting Autoimmune Diseases
Series A Investors Include Vida Ventures, Westlake Village BioPartners and Gilead Sciences
Dominic Borie, M.D., Ph.D., Appointed as Chief Executive Officer
BERKELEY, Calif., January 13, 2020 – Kyverna Therapeutics (“Kyverna”), a cell therapy company engineering a new class of therapies for serious autoimmune diseases, announced today that it has raised $25 million in a Series A investment from Vida Ventures and Westlake Village BioPartners, both of which were founding investors, as well as Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD). Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Kyverna’s therapeutic strategy which combines advanced T cell engineering and synthetic biology technologies to suppress and eliminate autoreactive immune cells at the root cause of inflammatory disease. Dominic Borie, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Jeffrey Greve, Ph.D., will continue to serve as Kyverna’s Chief Scientific Officer (CSO). Prior to Kyverna, Dr. Greve founded and served as CSO of Delinia, an autoimmune disease company acquired by Celgene in 2017.
As part of this financing, Fred Cohen, M.D., D.Phil., Co-Founder and Senior Managing Director of Vida Ventures will serve as Chairman of the Board. Beth Seidenberg, M.D., Co-Founding Managing Director of Westlake Village BioPartners, Desmond Padhi, B.Sc., Pharm. D., Principal at Westlake Village BioPartners, Brian Kotzin, M.D., Senior Vice President of Nektar Therapeutics, Peter Emtage, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Global Head of Research, Kite, a Gilead Company, one additional representative from Vida Ventures to be named, and Dominic Borie, M.D., Ph.D., will serve on the Company’s the Board of Directors.
“We are just beginning to see the potential for cell therapy and the opportunity to change the course of disease. Dominic’s skill as an immunologist and transplant surgeon, coupled with his proven leadership skill as an executive in the biopharmaceutical industry is what we require to embark on our bold vision for Kyverna,” said Fred Cohen, M.D., D.Phil., Co-Founder and Senior Managing Director of Vida Ventures. “At Vida, we have a long-standing commitment to advancing cell therapy. We believe the team at Kyverna, under Dominic’s stewardship and in partnership with Dr. Greve, the architect of the Kyverna scientific platform, has the ability to develop a new class of therapies for serious autoimmune diseases.”
“This may be one of the most exciting times is our industry where a new modality has the potential to become the backbone of treatment for a variety of severe immune-related diseases,” said Dominic Borie, M.D., Ph.D., newly appointed CEO of Kyverna. “This opportunity perfectly unites my experience as a surgeon, academic and drug developer with my passion for finding cures for autoimmune diseases. I am proud to serve as Kyverna’s CEO and be a part of this team.”
Kyverna also announced that it has entered into a strategic collaboration and license agreement with Gilead to develop engineered T cell therapies for the treatment of autoimmune disease based on Kyverna’s synthetic Treg platform and synNotch™ technology from Kite, a Gilead Company. Kyverna will be responsible for conducting research activities and initial clinical studies through proof-of-concept and Gilead will be granted an option, upon the exercise of which Gilead will be solely responsible for further clinical development and commercialization efforts for these programs. Gilead will make to Kyverna an upfront payment of $17.5 million and Kyverna may earn an additional $570 million in development and commercialization milestones.
Kyverna will also continue to advance its platform and develop proprietary programs beyond the Gilead collaboration.
“Kyverna’s approach combines advanced T cell engineering and synthetic biology technologies to develop significant new therapies for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases,” said Beth Seidenberg, M.D., Co-Founding Managing Director of Los Angeles-based Westlake Village BioPartners. “The strategic collaboration with Gilead Sciences in autoimmune diseases enables Kyverna to apply its therapeutic approach to this important unmet need.”
Dr. Borie is an accomplished immunologist and digestive tract and liver transplant surgeon with extensive experience in drug development. He joins Kyverna from Horizon Therapeutics where he served as Vice-President and Head, External Research and Development. Prior to Horizon, Dr. Borie served in numerous leadership functions within Genentech focused on global clinical development of immunology therapies including two anti-CD20 molecules (rituximab and obinutuzumab) in development for orphan immunology indications. Dr. Borie had joined Genentech from Amgen where he served as Medical Director and Global Development Leader for Inflammation. He started his career in industry at Roche as Director of Transplantation research before transitioning to Translational Medicine roles for inflammation. Prior to the transition to industry, Dr. Borie was in academia at Stanford University as the Director, Transplantation Immunology Laboratory where he became a key contributor in the validation of JAK inhibition as a new immunomodulatory approach to treating rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Borie was previously a digestive surgery and liver transplantation attending surgeon at Pitie- Salpetriere Hospital, Assistance Publique in Paris, France. He received his Ph.D. in transplantation immunology from the University of Paris V – Descartes and his M.D., Master’s degree in Immunology and Certificate of Immunology and Immunopathology from the University of Paris XII.
About Vida Ventures
Vida Ventures is a next-generation life sciences investment firm founded by a group of scientists, physicians, entrepreneurs and investors passionate about building and funding breakthroughs in biomedicine. Together they form an independent, bold investment group bound together by a simple word – life. Its mission is to bring science to life and advance transformative biomedical innovations that have the potential to make a meaningful difference for patients. Vida has a bicoastal presence and currently has approximately $1 billion under management. For more information on Vida Ventures, please visit www.vidaventures.com, on LinkedIn or follow on Twitter @Vida_Ventures.
About Westlake Village BioPartners
Westlake Village BioPartners is a Los Angeles area-based venture capital firm focused on incubating and building life sciences companies with entrepreneurs that have the potential to bring transformative therapies and technologies to patients. The Westlake model is built on the founding team’s unique experience in successfully identifying and developing breakthrough therapies and building organizations. For more information, please visit westlakebio.com.
About Kyverna Therapeutics
Kyverna Therapeutics is a cell therapy company engineering a new class of therapies for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The Kyverna therapeutic platform combines advanced T-cell engineering and synthetic biology technologies to suppress or eliminate the autoreactive immune cells at the origin of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. In addition to developing next-generation chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapies in both autologous and allogeneic settings, Kyverna is creating synReg T cells, a synthetic version of Regulatory T cells (Tregs), powerful natural immune cells that control immune homeostasis through multiple immunosuppressive mechanisms. By offering more than one mechanism for taming autoimmunity, Kyverna is positioned to transform how autoimmune diseases are treated. For more information, please visit https://kyvernatx.com.
synNotch is a registered trademark of Kite Pharma, Inc.
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