17 March 2014

Sanger Institute spinout Kymab announces therapeutic antibody discovery technology

Largest genetic engineering project to insert human genes

Inactivation of mouse variable region usage by inversion. Human and mouse V-region usage was evaluated in mice with series of IG BAC insertions in HK and HL mice. All the heavy chain transcripts used the human DH and JH segments and all the kappa light chain transcripts used human JK. n is sample numbers.

Inactivation of mouse variable region usage by inversion. Human and mouse V-region usage was evaluated in mice with series of IG BAC insertions in HK and HL mice. All the heavy chain transcripts used the human DH and JH segments and all the kappa light chain transcripts used human JK. n is sample numbers. [Kymab]

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Kymab, a monoclonal antibody biopharmaceutical company founded on research from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, announced today the publication in Nature Biotechnology of a paper describing its breakthrough therapeutic antibody discovery technology, Kymouse™.

Scientists at Kymab have engineered a mouse with the full set of genes encoding the human antibody repertoire, calling this new technology Kymouse™. They have demonstrated that these mice develop an enormous range of human antibodies which can be developed as potent drugs to treat a variety of human diseases such as cancer, autoimmune and infectious diseases.

"This is a remarkable achievement in our journey towards delivering therapeutic antibodies and to facilitate vaccine development," says Professor Allan Bradley, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Kymab. "Kymab scientists have completed the most ambitious humanisation project of the mouse genome ever undertaken, with 5.4 million bases of human DNA, representing 0.1% of the human genome into the appropriate place in the mouse genome."

Antibodies are one of the best-selling classes of drugs today; five of the top ten best-selling drugs are antibodies. This is because antibodies are natural products with exquisite specificity and potency, and generally have superior safety profiles. The challenge has been to capture the full human antibody repertoire and to recapitulate all its attributes.

" This is a remarkable achievement in our journey towards delivering therapeutic antibodies and to facilitate vaccine development. "

Professor Allan Bradley

Mice with portions of the human antibody repertoire have been developed previously. However, the technology used at the time proved unsuitable for moving the very large stretches of DNA from the human genome into the mouse. As a result, their antibody gene repertoires were both incomplete and in the wrong location in the genome. Kymab scientists took a different approach and moved these vast stretches of DNA into the mouse genome in a series of steps each with a smaller segment of DNA, carefully re-joining them and thereby re-constructing the complete human repertoire in the correct place in the mouse genome.

"We are delighted to publish our technology in this highly prestigious journal and to present the first professional peer-reviewed publication of transgenic mice with a fully human antibody repertoire" says Dr Christian Grøndahl, Chief Executive Officer of Kymab. "Antibodies discovered using Kymouse™ strains are essentially ready to be developed as drugs. We are building a rich pipeline of first-in-class therapeutics in five areas: haematology, oncology, auto-immunity, pain and cardiovascular disease. This technology offers great potential to advance patient care in diseases with significant unmet medical need."

By using the Kymouse™ technology, Kymab can pursue the targeting of the most challenging drug targets ranging from complicated ion channels and GPCRs to deeply hidden epitopes in heavily glycosylated virus proteins.

Dr David Chiswell, former CEO of Cambridge Antibody Technology and Chairman of Kymab's Board of Directors says: "Kymab's highly innovative and technically advanced Kymouse™ platform has overcome the problems which limited previous generations of human antibody generating mice and is a strong foundation on which we can build a global biotechnology company."

To make these sophisticated resources widely available, Kymab has created Kymab Access, a programme that enables academic researchers to pursue the discovery and development of novel human monoclonal antibody therapeutics by partnering with Kymab and its world leading Kymouse™ antibody technology.

Notes to Editors

Publication details

  • Complete humanization of the mouse immunoglobulin loci enables efficient therapeutic antibody discovery.

    Lee E-C et al

    Nature Biotechnology 2014

Kymab

Kymab is a 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 maximise the diversity of human antibodies produced in response to immunisation 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. Kymab is using the platform for its internal drug discovery programmes and in partnership with pharmaceutical companies. The first Kymouse™ antibody discovery agreement was concluded with Novo Nordisk in 2013.

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 and has seven current therapeutic antibody discovery programmes in immune-oncology, auto-immunity, haematology, chronic pain and cardiovascular diseases.

Kymab Access

Kymab is committed, with the support of its primary investor, The Wellcome Trust, to collaborate with leading academic experts. Kymab Access is a programme that enables academic researchers to pursue the discovery and development of novel human monoclonal antibody therapeutics by partnering researchers with Kymab and its world leading Kymouse™ antibody technology. Kymab Access is administered by Kymab Access Limited, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kymab established solely for this purpose with a confidentiality firewall between its operations and those of Kymab.

Websites

Kymab, Kymouse, Kymouse Access are trademarks of Kymab Limited.

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is one of the world's leading genome centres. Through its ability to conduct research at scale, it is able to engage in bold and long-term exploratory projects that are designed to influence and empower medical science globally. Institute research findings, generated through its own research programmes and through its leading role in international consortia, are being used to develop new diagnostics and treatments for human disease.

Website

The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We support the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. Our breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. We are independent of both political and commercial interests.

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Contact the Press Office

Don Powell Media and Public Relations Manager
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambs, CB10 1SA, UK

Tel +44 (0)1223 496 928
Mobile +44 (0)7753 775 397
Fax +44 (0)1223 494 919
Email press.office@sanger.ac.uk

Contact Kymab

Dr Christian Grøndahl Chief Executive Officer

Tel +44 (0)1223 833 301
Email christian.groendahl@kymab.com

Hume Brophy

Mary Clark, Hollie Vile and Supriya Mathur

Tel +44 (0)20 3440 5653
Email kymab@humebrophy.com

* quick link - http://q.sanger.ac.uk/slifspux