Kyras Therapeutics, Inc., a NYC-based biotech company, closed a Series A financing of undisclosed amount.
The round was led by Versant Ventures. As part of the financing, Brad Bolzon, Managing Director at Versant Ventures, and Carlo Rizzuto, Venture Partner at Versant Ventures and CEO of Highline Therapeutics, joined the Board of Directors, and Joe Vacca joined the management team as Chief Scientific Officer.
The company will use the funds to develop the RAS family of proteins.
Co-founded by Brent R. Stockwell, Professor in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry at Columbia University, and Versant Ventures to commercialize Columbia University technology, Kyras develops novel small molecules that directly target RAS-targeted drugs for patients with incurable forms of cancer.
It is is the first company to launch from Versant’s Highline Therapeutics incubator in New York City.
According to data from the National Cancer Institute, more than 30 percent of all human cancers are driven by mutations in RAS genes, including 95% of pancreatic, 45% of colorectal, and 35% of lung cancers, among many others.
The RAS proteins serve as central regulators of cell signalling to control cell growth, differentiation, and survival.
Based on technology from Brent Stockwell’s lab at Columbia University, Kyras has an exclusive license to develop the first direct RAS inhibitors, which were discovered using a novel methodology and, in contrast to other approaches, bind directly to RAS proteins in a non-covalent manner; both the methodology and the chemical matter are subjects of pending patent applications filed by Columbia University.
The company is committed to bring its compounds to patients with pancreatic and other deadly cancers, as well as orphan RASopathies, and is building a pipeline of additional RAS-targeted compounds.
The first clinical trials of its RAS-inhibiting drugs are scheduled for 2018.