Kriya Therapeutics, a fully-integrated gene therapy developer, said today it has completed a $270 million Series C financing that is intended to support the advancement of its pipeline and continued scaling of its engineering, manufacturing, and computational platforms.
With multiple programs across its portfolio currently at preclinical stages of development, Kriya said it hopes to use the financing to advance several programs, including type 1 diabetes, oncology, and rare diseases, entering the clinic next year and beyond.
The Series C follows an $80 million Series A round completed in 2020, and a Series B of $100 million that Kriya closed in July 2021.
The latest financing was led by Patient Square Capital, with participation from Bluebird Ventures, CAM Capital, Dexcel Pharma, Foresite Capital, JDRF T1D Fund, Lightswitch Capital, Narya Capital, QVT, Transhuman Capital, and other undisclosed investors.
“We have investors who are really supportive, committed to patients and building something transformative, and see that type of value potential for the company,” Shankar Ramaswamy, MD, Kriya’s Co-Founder and CEO, told GEN Edge. “We’re excited about the opportunity to build something of scale and significance to deliver meaningful advances in the gene therapy field.”
Bottom-Up Gene Therapy
Kriya Therapeutics was founded on the idea that consolidating critical capabilities into one company would enable efficient, systematic delivery of new gene therapy products and technologies across multiple different problems, expanding the field’s reach to tackle broader universal diseases.
While a top-down approach of starting with a single asset and then figuring out how to manufacture it is typical, Kriya Therapeutics asserts that it is coming at gene therapy from the opposite end, building its manufacturing infrastructure and analytical platform to advance dozens of products.
“Gene therapy is a modality where we have high conviction, and we believe that gene therapy can transform many different areas of medicine,” said Ramaswamy. “But, it has suffered from some technological and operational constraints that are the product of what we see as excessive fragmentation of this field and the proliferation of companies focused on various specific narrow aspects of various problems of gene therapy.”
Kriya has started with an expansive framework for therapeutic and clinical delivery of known therapeutic and clinical relevance gene therapy. To do that, Kriya has created an integrated engine and infrastructure designed to systematically engineer these products as well as develop, characterize, and manufacture them. Kriya says its scale gives it a unique advantage of being able to pursue various gene therapy uses.
Four Founding Pillars
Kriya Therapeutics has four core business units. First is manufacturing—arguably the biggest bottleneck in the field of gene therapies as not having enough capacity and scalable processes is extremely expensive. Kriya has built its infrastructure for manufacturing in North Carolina, which is now operational to deliver pipeline products.
“We control that ourselves, which is exciting and allows us to move faster,” Ramaswamy said. “It also allows us to invest in new technologies that we’re developing ourselves and partner with others to bring in things that can move the needle to better manufacturing of gene therapies.”
Kriya’s second core business unit is technology, based in Redwood City, CA. Here, Kriya has merged computer science with vector biology to build infrastructure and an engine called SIRVE™—a suite of computational algorithms and machine learning tools that Kriya applies to extensive data sets that they are generating and internalizing. Kriya uses this business unit to create better component technologies and product elements.
“We can also use that to generate novel insights that allow us to move faster through the discovery and development process and even scale-up of the manufacturing process,” said Ramaswamy.
The third is research and development, which will accelerate the design and development of products from concept through the clinic. This core business unit leverages Kriya’s next-generation sequencing platform and suite of proprietary immunological and bioanalytical assays to support high throughput screening and methodical candidate selection.
Kriya’s fourth core business unit is therapeutics. Within that, Kriya has multiple different therapeutic area divisions led by industry veterans who have significant experience in taking products from concept to commercialization. They leverage the significant infrastructure and platform that Kriya has built across gene therapy that’s indication agnostic.
Iterative Proprietary Learning
Ramaswamy believes that Kriya Therapeutics has deep expertise across all critical functions of the company.
“We’ve got the infrastructure up and running on the manufacturing side,” he said. “On the data architecture side, we’ve got a diverse portfolio of therapeutics across different disease areas, and we’re learning just a ton with each iteration of product development. Those learnings are proprietary to the company and give us a huge competitive advantage when it comes to prosecuting the next set of products.”
According to Ramaswamy, there’s a lot of value in the iterative learnings through this process: “Developing a gene therapy in many respects is like avoiding a minefield: the first or second time you go through it, there may be explosions along the way, but as you get to the fifth, 10th, 15th attempt, you know the pitfalls to avoid and the path to get to the finish line. That’s the value in controlling all of this ourselves. We have a team and infrastructure to troubleshoot many of the inevitable challenges in developing gene therapy.”
Kriya said it values these insights and learnings, using them to iterate on the next set of products and move faster and livelier, and at a lower cost.
Ramaswamy says that the first five products will provide Kriya with learnings that make products six through 10 go a lot faster, and then from 10 through 20 go even faster. He hopes that this will make Kriya better and more efficient at generating large volumes of data that feed into their computational platform, potentially launching into using in silico prediction.
That’s going to save time and cost and deliver better products in the long term as well, Kriya reasons.
Not Just X or Y
It’s not easy for any company to try to make a big difference in a complex field like gene therapy. Ramaswamy said.
“We like to think across the spectrum and ask look where there is an unmet need that can leverage our platform, expertise, and capabilities to rapidly accelerate the development of a product systematically without the constraints of saying, ‘We are company that only focuses on X or Y.’ We want to be focused more broadly on how gene therapy can be applied.”
But Ramaswamy believes that Kriya is set up to execute on the task at hand and tackle the challenges of this field. Until now, the missing ingredient for Kriya has been access to capital enabling it to build something that can deliver real value—something the company now says it has.