Tom Shepherd , Kymab announces the launch Kymouse HK, the first strain from the innovative Kymouse™ antibody discovery platform




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Video title: Tom Shepherd , Kymab announces the launch Kymouse HK, the first strain from the innovative Kymouse™ antibody discovery platform
Released on: October 19, 2012. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision New sReview filmed at BioPharm America in Boston Fintan Walton talks to Tom Shepherd of Kymab
Kymab and its next generation monoclonal antibody platform, Kymouse
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BioPharm America, in Boston, in September 2012. On this show I have Tom Shepherd, who is Chief Business Officer at Kymab based in Cambridge, in the UK. Welcome.
Tom Shepherd:
Good morning.
Fintan Walton:
Tom, Kymab is a relatively new company, it has a unique platform which is called Kymouse, could you tell us what Kymouse is all about?
Tom Shepherd:
Yes, Kymouse is a human monoclonal antibody platform, it's a mouse based system and essentially what we have done is replaced or inserted the human genome which codes for the variable regions of human antibodies into the mouse, therefore when you immunize the mouse with an antigen it creates fully human antibodies as a result, therefore it allows drug discovery teams to much more easily discover and future develop a fully human antibody drugs.
Fintan Walton:
Right, so the mouse actually produces human antibodies?
Tom Shepherd:
Yes, that's the idea, there is a few little twists in it to make sure that the mouse immune system works properly and so for the antibody the scientists we still have the most constant region of the antibody, but otherwise it's essentially creates fully human antibodies. And the big advantage of that over a number of other platforms is that you can take the antibody from the mouse which have isolated and really go forward then to development with very minimal antibody engineering, where as with the number of other platforms you really have to do a lot of engineering to optimize the performance of the antibody, where as in fact the mouse has a natural system in-vivo does that for you the mouse itself functions the antibody so it is a highest definitive possible.
Fintan Walton:
It does all the selection for you basically, naturally?
Tom Shepherd:
Exactly, exactly. Yes.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Tom Shepherd:
It's almost Darwinian but not quite.
Advantages of Kymouse in generation of antibody diversity
Fintan Walton:
Right, right. And so the advantage then, just to get the clear advantage is to reduce the length of time to get that or are you giving some additional opportunity to find antibodies, therapeutic antibodies that you wouldn't normally get by any other means?
Tom Shepherd:
Yes, the main advance we are making with Kymouse is in terms of the diversity of the antibodies, because we are actually putting the all of the design of the Kymouse is, all of the genes including the variable region of antibodies are placed in the mouse. Where as previous mouse platforms have been quite successful has quite a few approved drugs, but it had a very limited diversity of antibody response because of the number of genes, and that is one of the big step forward in the Kymouse as that we are putting the entire diversity in. So therefore the big if you like aspect of it is being able to find that rare antibody, that's quite hard to find which has the desired properties as a drug and by having a diversity of response, a very broad diversity heightens the chances of finding our ideal candidate and that's really the big issue of what we are trying to promote to our potential customers for Kymouse and there, of course the big news is that we just announced at this conference that in fact the first stage of that platform the Kymouse HK has been completed and it's ready for partnering.
Fintan Walton:
Right, so you have now Kymice as well as Kymouse?
Tom Shepherd:
Yes we have them running around in our laboratory, and so basically we have completed the chromosome engineering and putting the human genes into the mouse and that's now available for commercial use.
Focusing on monoclonal antibody drug discovery using Kymouse
Fintan Walton:
So it's available, and how did you, I mean obviously you've done the validation that these mice are actually capable of doing what you say they can do?
Tom Shepherd:
Yes they behave exactly as expected, they have on one hand a very normal mouse immune response which is a new, a relatively new for these platforms because the older generations of mice quite often had deficient immune responses because of all the engineering's. Our mouse have a normal immune response, but on the other hand they give rise to that fully human antibodies we expect and we also get the lengths of antibodies which is like a human rather than like a mouse, so they are actually really are producing antibodies which have human characteristics and we expect that will result in a much better platform for discovering drugs. And we have just started our own drug discovery work with the Kymouse to create our own antibodies against drug targets and we are being very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the antibodies that are coming out of the system.
Partnering model to develop Kymouse platform
Fintan Walton:
Okay, okay. So right, so the mice are now available for other companies whether they are biotech companies or pharma companies?
Tom Shepherd:
Yes, yes.
Fintan Walton:
So, so what's the deal? What, do you keep the mice or do you, are you handing the mice over to your collaborators it's the, in another words it's the work done at Kymab or are you offering these mice to companies, what's the model there in terms of collaboration?
Tom Shepherd:
Well the model we are trying to be, trying to take forward is actually one our flexibility, and the two scenarios you have just mentioned both are possible.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Tom Shepherd:
Our preference to be honest is that we would actually license the platform to our partners, non-exclusively, so they could work in their own laboratories to develop and discover their own drugs, and what we are doing is we have listened to what customers would like do and by far and away the biggest preference is that people would like to work on the mouse without any gatekeeping or limitations as to the kind of targets. So we are not slicing the pie, we are saying to companies you can take the Kymouse into your laboratory you can work on any targets you want, and our upside if you like is a combination of license fees and some downstream share of success. So that's really there what we call our strain access program which is really our preferred way and it's very well, looks well suited to larger companies. However smaller companies are perhaps companies who are like to understand about the platform before licensing it, we have what we call as a target focus collaboration and in this case the mice stay at Kymab and our partners supply us with antigens, we do the immunizations and we have a collaboration whereby we would then supply them with either antibodies, or cells, or whatever they would require in that collaboration and they would own the antibodies. So in that case it's a simpler collaboration because the mice don't leave us, so we don't have to go through all of the aspects about the license agreement on that side, but we supply the output from the collaboration to our partner.
Conflict management strategies and product development
Fintan Walton:
Right, so obviously you've said you are developing your own internal pipeline from these mice, is there any conflict between, you know, offering these mice to other companies and back they are conflicting with your plans?
Tom Shepherd:
And then in fact yes, it's actually exactly the reason why we out preferences to supply the mice to the other parties, because actually we don't even need to know which targets they are working on, that can be at behind closed doors and therefore that avoids a conflict of interest, obviously we have to put some structures into the agreement where we are working in our laboratory, in partnership with the partner we have put some structures into the agreement to protect each other and that's why in fact our preferences to give the mice, not give, license, and license the mice to the other party so that they can do their own drug discovery and now there is no conflict because if by chance we are working on the same drug targets then it purely is by chance there is no, if you like there is a Chinese Wall between us.
Fintan Walton:
How long do you think it will take before you will actually see some successes coming through from this?
Tom Shepherd:
Well I think that's the big selling point actually because of the mouse platform the mouse does the work for you in selecting there and refining the antibodies through a process of mutation, because it does that the actual time line from when you find and isolate your antibody from a mouse and when you can go into development is very short, so we actually expect to within a years time to have some viable candidates for our first targets coming out of the mouse.
Fintan Walton:
So the next few years for Kymab it's going to be incredibly interesting. Tom, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Tom Shepherd:
Thank you Fintan.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Tom Shepherd
Chief Business Officer
At the time of this PTV interview Tom Shepherd serves as Chief Business Officer at Kymab Limited. Dr. Shepherd has over 30 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry including CEO and executive business development roles in the USA, Europe and Australia. He has led multiple pharmaceutical asset and technology licensing transactions and has been responsible for strategic company-building acquisitions. He has also raised significant amounts of equity capital to build early stage companies in to sustainable commercial operations. Dr. Shepherd was previously CEO of CXR Biosciences and Neurotech S.A. and Vice President Business Development at ICN Pharmaceuticals and Intrabiotics Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Shepherd was awarded a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Strathclyde in 1981 and completed the CEP programme at the London Business School in 1989.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence &expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialization.
Kymab Limited
Kymab is a "platform to product" biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of fully human monoclonal antibody drugs using its proprietary Kymouse transgenic antibody platform. Kymouse has been designed to maximize the diversity of human antibodies produced in response to immunization with antigens. Selecting from a broad diversity of fully human antibodies assures the highest probability of finding that rare drug candidate with best-in-class characteristics. Founded in 2009, Kymab raised "20m of equity financing in 2010 from the investment division of the Wellcome Trust. It has an experienced management team with a successful track record in drug discovery and development.