SEOUL, Korea—Kanaph Therapeutics, a newly founded biotech company, has just raised US $6M USD from Timefolio Asset Management and Meritz Securities for its Series A financing. This follows a seed investment of approximately $2M USD, whereby Kanaph secured funding for its drug discovery and development activities. Kanaph plans for the funds to be used to cure solid tumors with its tumor microenvironment (TME)-targeting immunocytokine platform, TMEkine.
Kanaph Therapeutics was founded by Byoung Chul Lee, who builds on the extensive experience in antibody drug development that he accumulated at Genentech, 23andMe and Santen. One of the limitations of current immuno-oncology drugs is that a response can only be seen in 20-30% of patients.
The TMEkine immunocytokine platform that Lee has created aims to enhance such response rates. The conceptual IP has been licensed in from various universities in the U.S. and because significant amounts of discovery research have already been completed, Kanaph believes that the company will be ready to enter preclinical studies within the year.
“Our TMEkine platform will target crucial mechanisms for overcoming immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment to meet the unmet medical needs of cancer patients,” Lee said. “We are considering combination strategies between our large molecule and small molecule therapies to create a more synergistic effect.”
Kanaph Therapeutics plans to develop both large and small molecule therapies. The goal is to increase the probability of the technical success of its pipeline by taking a two-track strategy; first-in-class large molecule therapies for new targets, and best-in-class small molecule therapies for targets that have already been sufficiently validated.
Doctorate level key researchers from large pharma companies such as Amgen and top tier Korean pharma companies, all with over a decade of experience in the field, are driving Kanaph’s drug development activities. Upon evaluation of the pipeline, resources will be allocated to the most promising program for development into the clinic in 2021.
“Kanaph’s world class Scientific Advisory Board members Deborah Charych of Third Rock Ventures, Professor Brian Shoichet of UCSF, [and] Professor Byoung Chul Cho of Yonsei Cancer Center will play an important role in refining our drug development strategy, and our strategic alliance with Yonsei Cancer Center and Chung-Ang University will allow us to meet milestones at shortened timelines,” noted Lee.