Allison DeAngelis, Life Sciences Reporter, Boston Business Journal
One of Kymera Therapeutics’ early investors has taken on a new role: drug development partner.
French drug Sanofi (Nasdaq: SNY) has signed on to co-develop two of Kymera’s drug candidates for immune and inflammatory diseases. Under the deal announced Thursday, Kymera will receive $150 million upfront and upwards of $2 billion in milestone payments.
The first of these drugs is expected to enter in-human tests in the first half of 2021. In the meantime, Kymera is adding between 25 and 35 people to its 60-person team, according to CEO Nello Mainolfi.
The Atlas Venture-backed company is also preparing to relocate from Kendall Square to Watertown’s Arsenal Yards development.
The biotech’s pipeline is based on a scientific approach called protein degradation. The theory is that Kymera’s oral medications could pinpoint cells in a variety of tissue types and eliminate disease-causing proteins.
Sanofi has already invested in one other protein degradation company this year: San Francisco’s Nurix Therapeutics, Inc. It gave Nurix $55 million upfront in a deal with a total of $2.55 billion.
Kymera’s lead drug targets a gene called IRAK4, which signals the start of inflammation in the body. Scientists believe it could be involved in diseases as varied as rheumatoid arthritis to a skin condition marked by the growth of painful lumps under the skin.
Sanofi will join Kymera in developing the drug as an inflammatory disease treatment, but Kymera has retained exclusive rights to test and sell the drug as a cancer treatment, according to Mainolfi.
Kymera is also developing an undisclosed number of drug candidates with partner Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX).
Between the two partnership deals and three private equity fundraising rounds, Kymera has raised more than $415 million (Sanofi’s venture capital arm invested an undisclosed amount in Kymera’s 2018 Series B round).
Mainolfi told the Business Journal in March that the company had enough funding to operate through 2022. He declined to give further information this week on the company’s financial standing.