BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Kelonia Therapeutics, a biotech company revolutionizing in vivo gene delivery, launched today with a $50 million Series A financing to usher in a new era of genetic medicines for a wide range of diseases. Kelonia’s platform overcomes the central challenge that has prevented the full realization of gene therapy for patients. Despite life-changing responses, existing gene therapies are highly complex, costly, and limited by complicated treatment paradigms, tractable therapeutic applications, and dose-limiting toxicities. By enabling precisely targeted, highly efficient, manufacturable “off-the-shelf” in vivo gene delivery, Kelonia’s technology has the potential to dramatically expand the impact and reach of genetic medicines to every patient in need.
Kelonia is backed by a strong syndicate of investors with a track record of successfully launching and building disruptive biotech companies. Alta Partners, Horizons Ventures, Venrock and other investors participated in the Series A round. The company will use the funding to redefine what’s possible for genetic medicines starting with an “off-the-shelf” chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) to treat hematologic cancer that may enable the unrivalled clinical benefit of CAR T without the typical toxicities and with the ease of access of conventional medicines. Additionally, the company will advance other programs for oncology and non-oncology indications, and further expand its gene delivery platform and capabilities.
“The cell and gene therapy field has been searching for solutions to durable in vivo genetic modifications regardless of whether applying gene editing, RNA expression or viral-mediated gene integration,” said Kevin Friedman, Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer of Kelonia. “At Kelonia, we believe we have found an in vivo gene delivery solution that is safe, effective, and manufacturable for broad therapeutic application. With our Series A funding and key strategic collaborations, we will advance our lead product candidate toward clinical studies and further optimize our technology to explore treating diseases never thought possible with genetic medicines.”
Based on discoveries made in the lab of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Michael Birnbaum, Ph.D., and leveraging pioneering research from leading scientists at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Kelonia’s in vivo gene delivery technology enables a few potent lentiviral vector-like particles armed with an adjustable targeting system to precisely, efficiently, and safely deliver payloads exactly where needed to treat a broad range of diseases. The company’s early applications combine oncology-targeted therapeutics, such as CAR and T cell receptor molecules, with Kelonia’s precision in vivo targeting technology. When used in concert, this combination enables potent and precise tumor targeting with limited “off-tumor” toxicity, which would otherwise be a concern. Administered directly in vivo as an “off-the-shelf” medicine, Kelonia’s transformational therapies in development for solid and hematologic tumors have the potential to democratize patient access to genetic medicines. Beyond oncology, the company will advance its technology to unlock delivery to previously hard-to-reach tissues, such as neurological, muscular or renal, to deliver different types of genetic cargo with the goal of radically transforming the treatment of diseases in these areas.
“It turns out, a relatively simple and elegant idea to de-target and redirect lentivirus-like particles based on recently published research from my lab can potentially provide a solution to in vivo gene delivery,” said Dr. Birnbaum, Ph.D., Co-Founder of Kelonia. “I’m incredibly excited about the potential of Kelonia’s platform and team to vastly expand the utility of gene therapies to treat oncology, autoimmune disease, rare monogenic or other diseases currently intractable to gene therapies.”
“Kelonia is combining the two crucial elements required to develop truly novel medicines: breakthrough biology and an exceptional team,” said Bryan Roberts, Partner at Venrock. “Michael Birnbaum’s industrially robust platform affords a targeting specificity log orders better than anything else out there and the team has a stellar track record for translating groundbreaking scientific gene therapy discoveries into viable products that are transformative for patients.”
In addition to the completion of its Series A, Kelonia has established strategic collaborations with Adimab and ElevateBio. With both collaborations already successfully underway, each of these outstanding partners brings differentiating capabilities that enable and accelerate the company’s vision to bring breakthrough genetic medicines to patients.
Adimab is the leading provider of therapeutic antibody discovery and engineering technologies. Kelonia will leverage Adimab’s expertise and proprietary technologies, across a range of applications, to access tissue-specific antibodies that enable unlocking precise in vivo gene delivery to different tissues as well as antibodies that can be leveraged within the therapeutic genetic cargo.
ElevateBio is a technology-driven company focused on powering transformative cell and gene therapies with multiple next-generation technology platforms and a fully integrated R&D and manufacturing facility. Through an expanding partnership, Kelonia will utilize ElevateBio’s lentiviral vector platform, process and analytical development expertise, and cGMP manufacturing capabilities to develop and advance novel manufacturing processes for Kelonia and manufacture of Kelonia’s products.
Leadership and Founding Team
Kelonia brings together industry leaders in cell and gene therapy responsible for the discovery and development of multiple clinical and commercial products including ABECMA®, the first FDA-approved anti-BCMA CAR T cell therapy product for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. The company’s leadership team includes Kevin Friedman, Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer, Thomas Galbo, Ph.D., Chief Business Officer, and Molly Perkins, Ph.D., Vice President of Research.
Kelonia’s scientific founders include Michael Birnbaum, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Michael Fischbach, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Bioengineering and of Medicine, Stanford University, both world-leading experts in the fields of microbiology, immunology, oncology, and cell and gene engineering.
The company’s board of directors comprises Michael Birnbaum, Michael Fischbach, Kevin Friedman, Bryan Roberts and Bob More, Managing Director at Alta.
About Kelonia Therapeutics
Kelonia is pioneering a new wave of genetic medicines using its next generation gene delivery platform. The company’s simple and elegant cutting-edge in vivo gene delivery technology uses a few potent lentiviral vector-like particles to precisely and efficiently deliver in vivo genetic cargo to the desired target tissue, and only that tissue, every time. With an initial focus on developing transformational therapies for solid tumors and hematologic cancers, Kelonia is building a pipeline of genetic medicines for a wide range of diseases, with the bold goal of bringing genetic medicines to every patient in need. Learn more about Kelonia at www.keloniatx.com and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.