A consortium that includes Seattle-based biotech company Kineta, UW Medicine, and the University of Washington’s CoMotion group is seeking to raise an additional $7 million in a Series C financing round, according to an SEC filing this week.
The consortium, known as KPI Therapeutics, is initially supporting Kineta’s efforts to take a pipeline of promising new drugs through clinical trials and bring them to market more efficiently. Whereas biotech companies have traditionally formed around individual drug development programs, Kineta is building a system that can repeatedly bring new drugs through clinical trials.
Kineta is “focused on trying to break out of the old biotech model,” said Charles Magness, Kineta’s CEO, in an interview with GeekWire this week.
He explained, “Once you have a concept that’s been validated, either at a small company or a university, the idea is to bring that forward and get that into clinical trials, where you can do proof-of-concept testing and get to the point where you can say, ‘This is a viable drug candidate, let’s now commercialize it.'”
“We’re trying to do that repetitively, very cost-effectively, without having to rebuild the engine every time there’s a new idea coming forward,” he said.
Using this approach, the company has reported promising early results for Dalazatide, a drug derived from the venom of a sea anemone, to treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. It was licensed from the University of California, Irvine.
Kineta was founded by Magness and Shawn Iadonato, who previously sold their Seattle-based biotech company Illumigen Biosciences to Cubist Pharmaceuticals.
Under Kineta’s approach, the company creates special-purpose entities for each drug program, in the same way that real estate developers establish limited liability companies for each project they build.
Magness explained, “We’re making very clear what effort is going into that one program, as opposed to other programs. At the same time, it allows us to spread our resources more effectively across multiple programs. You don’t have to have a full company around each program.”
Kineta has raised funds from a variety of investors and grants, and was part of a group that won a $10 million contract from the National Institute of Health last year. The company employs nearly 50 people, and recently expanded in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, in part to accommodate more growth.
The KPI Therapeutics consortium has raised about $4.8 million over the past year.