University of Edinburgh life sciences spin-out secures major £9m injection

Kynos Therapeutics, a spin-out company from the University of Edinburgh, has secured a funding injection of £9 million to build on its research and grow its team.

The immune-metabolic specialist is commercialising a decade of drug discovery research on kynurenine 3-monooxygenase (KMO). Its programmes are focused on three key areas - in critical illness post-surgery, in conditions driven by inflammation, and in cancers where inflammation is preventing the immune system from fighting back.

The £9m cash boost comprises £6.5m in equity financing led by Epidarex Capital, together with IP Group and Scottish Enterprise, alongside £2.5m Innovate UK grant funding for a phase one clinical trial of its lead KMO inhibitor.

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The firm has a pipeline of KMO inhibitors exclusively licensed from the University of Edinburgh after a co-development programme with pharmaceutical giant GSK. KMO plays a major role in the control of inflammation and metabolism, contributing to the regulation of the immune system.

Prof Damian Mole, CEO, and Prof Scott Webster, CSO, co-founders of Edinburgh-based Kynos Therapeutics. Picture: Ian Jacobs Photography

Professor Damian Mole, chief executive of Edinburgh-based Kynos Therapeutics, said: “Our goal is to improve health and make a positive impact for patients, by developing our programme in the therapeutic area of inflammation and immunometabolism.

“We are very excited by the potential of our first-in-class KMO inhibitors and we are ready to enter the clinic with our lead asset.

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“Our programmes are based on extensive industry collaborative research with a robust science base supported by multiple high impact publications. There are no approved or marketed medicines for our gateway indication, for which there is a significant unmet need.”

Following the financing, Elizabeth Roper, partner at Epidarex Capital, and Tassos Konstantinou, investment manager, life sciences at IP Group, have joined Kynos’s board of directors.

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Roper said: “Kynos has a first-in-class set of KMO inhibitors that we believe have potential in multiple therapeutic areas. We look forward to working closely with the team and the syndicate to progress these assets into the clinic and to realise the potential of Kynos’s world-class science.”

Sam Williams, managing partner of life sciences at IP Group, said: “KMO is rapidly becoming a target of great interest in drug discovery. IP Group is excited to support Kynos as it seeks to become a leading player in the KMO field and develop inhibitors with the potential to transform patients’ lives across multiple indications.”

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Kerry Sharp, director of growth investments at Scottish Enterprise, added: “Scotland is globally renowned for its strengths in life sciences because of our innovative companies, incredible talent and world-class universities.

“Supporting companies in this sector, such as Kynos Therapeutics, to progress its ground-breaking medical research is a priority for Scottish Enterprise. Kynos is developing an innovative portfolio of first-in-class medicines and this funding will help deliver therapies for patients impacted by inflammatory conditions.”

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IP Group develops “world-changing” science and technology businesses across life sciences, technology and cleantech. The firm is listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.

Epidarex Capital is a transatlantic venture capital firm with a track record of building life science companies in emerging hubs in the US and the UK.

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