F-Prime has long been interested in precision medicine approaches that tackle the underlying cause of diseases, ranging from investments in small molecules (e.g., Blueprint Medicines) to gene editing technologies (e.g., Beam Therapeutics).
K36 Therapeutics: Advancing a first-in-class MMSET inhibitor to benefit t(4;14) multiple myeloma patients and beyond
In 2020, we developed an interest in the epigenetic modulation of oncogenic pathways and came across a small molecule inhibitor of MMSET, known as KTX-1001. MMSET is a histone methyltransferase that is overexpressed due to the t(4;14) translocation that is present in up to 20% of multiple myeloma patients. This target has been highly evasive, with several companies trying and failing to develop a direct inhibitor. When we learned that there was a first-in-class, selective MMSET inhibitor available for licensing, we saw a unique opportunity to build a company dedicated to advancing drugs against MMSET, and potentially other similarly compelling epigenetic targets in cancer.
We found partners early on that were similarly eager to help build and ensure the long-term success of the company, including Atlas Venture and academic thought leaders in methyltransferase biology such as Or Gozani, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Biology at Stanford University. Our sister fund, Eight Roads Ventures, also joined the syndicate. K36 recently emerged from stealth with experienced biotech executive Terry Connolly leading the company as CEO, and industry veteran Lori Kunkel, M.D., joining the Board of Directors. With the $30M Series A financing, co-led by F-Prime, K36 is well positioned to progress KTX-1001 through the clinic and plans to submit an IND for KTX-1001 in the first half of 2022.
While we are fortunate to have many more available therapeutic options for multiple myeloma patients today, the t(4;14) translocation is classified as a high risk genetic alteration and is associated with a poorer prognosis. We believe that direct MMSET inhibition represents a promising new modality that can benefit this population of multiple myeloma patients. This is a great opportunity and we are very proud to support K36 on its mission to develop small molecule epigenetic modulators and breakthrough precision medicines that address the unmet medical needs of cancer patients worldwide.
"From the beginning, F-Prime championed/advocated the founding of our company. F-Prime partner and K36 board member, Chong Xu, Ph.D., helped negotiate the license and assembled the Scientific Advisory Board. Together, we work to put precision medicine on the forefront to help patients.— Terry Connolly, Ph.D., CEO