The UK's Kymab has raised $40 million with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and existing investor the Wellcome Trust each stumping up $20 million.
The Cambridge-based biotech says the cash, raised through a series B financing, will help maximise the potential of its Kymouse platform and "advance its pipeline of first-in-class therapeutic human monoclonal antibodies in areas of significant unmet medical need", including cancer and inflammation. Kymab will also collaborate with the Gates Foundation and its partners on vaccine antigen discovery R&D with an initial focus on malaria and HIV.
Chief executive Christian Grondahl said "we are delighted to attract investment from two of the world’s largest foundations", noting that "this is a strong financial and scientific endorsement of Kymab". Chairman David Chiswell added that the "highly innovative and technically advanced Kymouse platform has overcome the problems which limited previous generations of human antibody-generating mice", saying that the cash gives Kymab "a strong foundation on which we can build a global biotechnology company".
Trevor Mundel, president of global health at the Gates Foundation, commented that “we are excited to work with Kymab in pursuit of R&D of drugs and vaccines to address diseases that have a disproportionate impact on the world’s poorest". He went on to say that the group "has one of the most comprehensive transgenic technologies to date, capturing the entire human IgG diversity".
Given the hullabaloo surrounding Pfizer's takeover bid of AstraZeneca, the cash for Kymab, which raised $30 million in 2010 from the investment division of the Wellcome Trust, is being seen by some observers as a further validation of the UK life sciences industry and an endorsement for Cambridge as a centre of innovation.