Kainomyx Announces the Launch of Its Programs Focused on Malaria and Other Parasitic Diseases Print E-mail
Monday, 13 July 2020 02:30


SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., July 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kainomyx, Inc., founded in September 2019 and financed with $7.5 Million in May 2020, today announced launch of its programs to address malaria and other parasitic diseases. Leveraging their expertise in the biotech world and cytoskeletal biology, Kainomyx was founded by five current and former Stanford scientists who are experts in the biology, biochemistry and biophysics of the cytoskeletal proteins of cells - James Spudich, PhD, Annamma Spudich, PhD, Darshan Trivedi, PhD, Suman Nag, PhD and Kathleen Ruppel, MD, PhD. Together, they share a conviction that there is a critical need for new therapeutic innovations for treating malaria, leishmaniasis, and other parasitic diseases. “Existing efforts to develop therapeutic agents for treatment of malaria and other parasitic diseases often start with screening for small molecule inhibitors of invasion of the parasites into their host cells. While an important approach, the likelihood of success in drug development correlates well with the understanding of the mechanism of action of the target,” said James Spudich, President and CEO of the new company and former Chair of the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine (and recipient of the Lasker Award for his work on Molecular Motors). “Our approach is to develop small molecule therapeutics against target proteins that we have studied for decades and meet six essential characteristics – they are vital components of parasite function, mechanistically well understood, essential at multiple stages of the parasite life cycle, highly druggable, less likely to be subject to resistance, and can be targeted with high specificity.”

About Parasite Diseases

Parasitic infections cause devastating health and economic consequences world-wide and remain some of the most significant public health challenges globally. Until recently, parasitic diseases were considered to be confined to non-western nations. However, world-wide travel and on-going alterations in climatic conditions have made boundaries more porous, and diseases once restricted to specific areas are becoming global.

There is an urgent need for novel therapies to treat parasitic diseases. The mechanisms of action of current therapeutics for malaria, for example, are generally not well understood, and resistance is now developing against Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT), the current primary therapy for malaria. Thus, novel targets for malaria drug development are in great need.

Kainomyx Focus

Kainomyx is focusing on targeting the cytoskeletal proteins of parasites to develop small molecule therapeutics targeted at malaria and other parasitic diseases. The cytoskeleton, a term coined by Spudich and his colleagues in 1976 from their work on mammalian cells, is a multicomponent system of molecular motors, tracks along which they move, and associated proteins involved in their dynamic organization within cells. The cytoskeleton is essential for multiple pivotal cell functions and is the structural organizational framework for all cells. Over the last fifty years, Spudich and his team, first at the University of California, San Francisco, and then at Stanford University, have focused their efforts on understanding the molecular details of the functions of the cytoskeleton of a variety of cell types.

In addition to his years of experience in academia, Spudich co-founded Cytokinetics, Inc. in 1998 and MyoKardia, Inc. in 2012. Cytokinetics is focused to the discovery and development of novel mechanism modulators of cytoskeletal biology with focus to muscle biology and pharmacology. MyoKardia is focused to the discovery and development of new treatments for genetic diseases of the heart.

At Kainomyx, Spudich and his colleagues are leveraging their academic and biotech expertise to treat one of the most devastating diseases of all time, malaria, which kills more than 450,000 people every year, and the majority of deaths are children under the age of 10. The challenge is to develop novel therapeutic approaches to treat malaria but also to develop sensitive, accurate, easy to execute diagnostic tests to identify asymptomatic carriers who contribute to the transmission of malaria parasites. Kainomyx is pursuing the necessary targets to achieve these goals.

Cytokinetics Helps Jumpstart Kainomyx’s Research Programs

Cytokinetics is facilitating Kainomyx’s programs on treatment of malaria and other parasitic diseases by assigning and transferring to Kainomyx all of Cytokinetics’ rights, title and interest in and to several existing compounds that act as modulators of the parasite cytoskeletal system. Kainomyx will also be incubating at Cytokinetics, the first company devoted to developing small molecule therapeutics targeting the molecular motor-based machinery of cells. Spudich said, “I am pleased to be once again working in close proximity to my colleagues at Cytokinetics, a company I co-founded in 1998 and where I worked for the first year of Cytokinetics’ research program while on leave of absence from Stanford University.”

Financing of Kainomyx

Initial funding for Kainomyx of $7.5M came in May of this year. William J. Rutter, PhD, the primary investor, was co-Founder of the early biotech company Chiron and multiple additional companies. Rutter is Founder, Chairman and CEO of Synergenics, LLC, which controls a consortium of companies with different but complementary approaches to diagnosis, prevention and treatment on a worldwide basis. Rutter, commenting on Kainomyx, said, “There is a dire need for new developments for successfully treating malaria and a series of other parasitic diseases, which have plagued humans for centuries. I am very impressed with Kainomyx’s strategies to have a major impact in this area. Current drugs have been only partially successful and have not eliminated the spread of the disease. Several of the large pharma companies have had programs for these diseases, but to my knowledge, only occasionally have yielded any success. More recently, several small biotech “startups” have focused on these diseases with varying strategies, but none have been successful. In contrast, Kainomyx has a strategic approach which can be focused on several diseases in this area by targeting mechanistically well-understood cytoskeletal elements that are crucial for vitality of these organisms. Jim Spudich and colleagues have been the leaders in elucidating the fundamental mechanisms by which these cytoskeletal elements work. There is no better team to lead this innovative new strategy, which provides an unusual investment opportunity to make an impact on human life.”

Additional funding was provided by Open Philanthropy and James and Annamma Spudich.

Board of Directors, Kainomyx

Kainomyx’s Board of Directors is Chaired by Dr. William J. Rutter. He is joined by Dirk Thye, MD, serial entrepreneur who has led multiple small and medium sized companies in successful product development and is currently Executive Chairman at Geom Therapeutics. The third Board member is Amit L. Mehta, PhD, a Life Science Research Foundation Fellow at Bell Labs and Stanford University in his early career, later an Associate Partner at McKinsey and Company, followed by Managing Director at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, and is currently Managing Director at J.P. Morgan.


Annamma Spudich, PhD
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