Discovering Biotech Startups: A map for Selling to KayoThera


Written by:
David Wilkerson

We are going right along with the new branch of the Sponsor Atlas series, which focuses on young pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are in early stages or stealth mode. In the next edition of Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups, we’re looking at KayoThera, exploring the current affairs and future orientation of this emerging Princeton - based stealth biotech startup. To accomplish this, we will give a business overview of their current operations, summarize their outsourcing needs, map out their development goals and decision-makers, and highlight their current strategies for capturing innovation. If you haven’t already read our other blogs on new biotech startups, be sure to check them out here.     

KayoThera is a stealth biotech startup and developer of therapeutics intending to cure late-stage and metastatic cancers, including breast, lung, pancreatic, colorectal, brain, and kidney cancers. The company’s program is mainly focused on inhibiting a key enzyme that is responsible for protecting the cancer cells and depleting regulatory T-cells, with the goal of ultimately curing formerly incurable cancers and giving hope to all of the desperate patients with these deadly types of illnesses. 

Business Overview

KayoThera does not currently have any registered trademarks, but they do have simple website that provides some information about their current research and development pipeline. KayoThera’s principal place of business, as noted on the Sec Form D, is located at 155 Village Blvd., Suite 130, Princeton, NJ 08540. This is the main location where an investment company called Foundation Venture Capital Group LLC primarily does business. KayoThera was registered in Delaware as a C-Corp with a filing date on 5/24/2019 and has a registered agent address.   

KayoThera raised a seed round of $750,000 on 3/3/2018 that was received from the New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF) in collaboration with Princeton University, and with additional help from Foundation Venture Capital Group. This is the first large deal under a framework established by NJHF and Princeton University. So far the company has done a very good job of staying under the radar, especially with that amount of funding and investor backing. 

Metastatic and late-stage cancers are known to be fairly resistant to current chemotherapies and pharmaceutical companies have found it very challenging to pursue any new treatments at this time. But discoveries made in the laboratory of Princeton University Professor Yibin Kang point to novel approaches to overcome the defenses of cancer cells. Dr. Kang, and Dr. Mark Esposito, a postdoctoral research associate in the Kang lab, have co-founded KayoThera to pursue the development of therapies based on the lab’s ground-breaking research. 

Outsourcing History

KayoThera doesn’t have a lot of information about their current outsourcing needs, but considering their recent seed funding, we think they are in a great position to finance a ton of outsourcing work. The company is still early in development but they do have a few lead candidates in efficacy studies as well as medicinal chemistry stages with very good results so far. We think this would be a great time to contact KayoThera if you’re interested in providing outsourcing services related to research and development of metastatic cancer therapies.  Any experience with these types of diseases and the technologies surrounding it would be of tremendous benefit to KayoThera at this point in time. 

We think outsourcing partners in the realms of small molecule CMOs, preclinical CROs and any specialty CROs that have experience with late-stage and metastatic cancer R&D should definitely have KayoThera on their radar over the next few years.  

KayoThera’s Pipeline and R&D Focus

Kayothera is developing new therapeutics to give hope to many of the vulnerable patients afflicted with late-stage or metastatic cancers. With these novel therapies, the company aims to cure currently “incurable” types of cancers, and really give hope back to some of these patients. According to Professor Kang, Kayothera’s lead programs have considerable scientific support and biological validation. “Genetic and pharmacological studies in my laboratory have identified and validated a family of key enzymes that protect cancer cells under stressful conditions, such as metastasis, drug treatment and attack by the immune system.  The development of small molecule inhibitors against these enzymes will potentially improve the efficacy of chemotherapy and immunotherapy against advanced cancers.” [1]

We think business development teams in the realms of small molecule CMOs, preclinical CROs with experience in cancerous animal model development, and bioanalytical service providers with expertise in late-stage cancer research should definitely contact KayoThera for potential outsourcing work in the near future. 

Decision Making

  • Dr. Mark Esposito - CEO of KayoThera, is an entrepreneur and innovative scientist working to discover and advance first-in-class therapeutics for late-stage cancer patients. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in drug discovery at Princeton University with a heavy focus on a determination of the fundamental biology behind cancer metastasis. [2]
  • Dr. Yibin Kang - Scientific Director at KayoThera, and is a Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from Fudan University in Shanghai in 1995. After completing his graduate study at Duke in 2000, Dr. Kang became an Irvington Institute postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Joan Massagué at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and pioneered a functional genomic approach to elucidate the mechanism of breast cancer metastasis. Dr. Kang joined the faculty of Princeton University as an Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology in 2004. Dr. Kang's research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis. His laboratory applies a multidisciplinary approach to analyze the molecular basis of cancer metastasis, combining molecular biology and genomics tools with animal models and advanced in vivo imaging technologies. Dr. Kang has published over 100 original articles in leading journals including Cell, Cancer Cell, and Nature Medicine. [3]
  • Dr. George Heinrich  - partner at KayoThera, is also the vice chair and chief executive officer of Foundation Venture Capital Group, a position he also holds with New Jersey Health Foundation. Dr. Heinrich received his MD degree from New Jersey Medical School and served his residency in Internal Medicine at Martland Hospital in Newark. He has dedicated his career to the advancement of medical research and education and has served in a variety of capacities on many boards including those of hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes and charitable organizations within the states of New Jersey and New York. [4]
  • James Golubieski - partner at KayoThera, is also the president of Foundation Venture Capital Group and New Jersey Health Foundation. Mr. Golubieski had been chief financial officer of Array Medical, Inc., a medical device company established in 1995 that developed a groundbreaking blood test to assess platelet function. The company was sold in 1999. Previously, he was chief operating officer and senior executive vice president of Glendale National Bank and a member of its board of directors, president of Glendale Investment Corp. and Glendale Mortgage Services, Inc. and chief financial officer of Glendale Bancorp. [5]

Innovation

With a substantial amount of investment backing, significant progress in scientific benchwork, and deep technical backgrounds from their executives, we believe that KayoThera will do very well in their early-stage developments and clinical trial studies. KayoThera’s innovative approach to inhibiting enzymes in cancer cells will surely create some promising new treatments in the future. With their two candidates in development using these innovative technologies, KayoThera is going to make some unprecedented discoveries in the field of late-stage cancer therapy.

Mark Esposito, Kayothera CEO, laid out the company’s next steps saying, “This partnership with NJHF enables us to move our two therapeutic programs from basic scientific discovery to clinical development. Ultimately, this is an investment in improving the quality of life of patients and giving hope to those affected by terminal cancer diagnoses.”

While it’s still fairly difficult to determine what KayoThera will have to offer during stealth mode, their amount of investment backing is substantial, and with the backgrounds of the executive team, we think they are on track to create some major breakthroughs in the industry over the next few years. Be sure to keep KayoThera on your contact list and look out for our next edition in this series coming soon. 

How can I find new biotech startups?

If you would like a simple solution for keeping an eye on drug sponsor companies, like KayoThera, without relying on a database and generic lists of leads each week, we at Zymewire are here to help. Reach out today, and stay tuned for the next installment of the Sponsor Atlas: Discovering new Biotechs. If you enjoy these articles, please feel free to give them a share through the social links below!

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