Gene therapy is making a change of focus from rare diseases to mainstream chronic conditions, and Kriya has secured $100 million to make this happen.

California-based Kriya Therapeutics successfully secured an additional $100 million for gene therapy programs focusing on common and complex diseases such as diabetes. In other words, it is swerving beyond its core gene therapy programs for rare diseases to expand its therapeutic pipeline. The funds are earmarked for research and technology focusing on ophthalmology, oncology, and metabolic disorders.

The second $100 funding round was spearheaded by Patient Square Capital, and participated by new institutional investors as Alumni Ventures, Woodline Partners LP. Hongkou, CAM Capital, and many others. At the same time, existing institutional investors continued their participation, including Foresite Capital, Dexcel Pharma, QCT, Amplo, Narya Capital, Transhuman Capital, and JDRF T1D Fund.

Kriya’s new financing round comes next to a successful series A round for which it secured $80.5 million. The first financing round was geared towards advancing three specific adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapies with authority from the National Institutes of Health and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

Kriya’s programs for diabetes and other common diseases

Among the three gene therapies, Kriya is keen on developing KT-A112 to treat Type 1 diabetes. This program addresses T1D by delivering insulin- and glucokinase-producing genes using an injection to the muscles. 

Aside from KT-A112 for T1D, Kriya has also developed KT-A281, a gene therapy treatment for tumors. It has also launched KT-A522 gene therapy to address severe obesity, where an injection in the salivary gland delivers a gene to facilitate the production of a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). Moreover, it has also come up with gene therapies KT-A253 for opthalmological diseases like geographic atrophy and KT-A261 for uveitis. Uveitis is a type of eye inflammation responsible for swelling and destroying eye tissue. Meanwhile, geographic atrophy is a chronic degeneration of the macula which can cause blindness. 

Rethinking gene therapy development

Kriya hopes to become a leader in the gene therapy field, and its new manufacturing facility at the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina will help advance this goal. As such, CEO Shankar Ramaswamy says the company’s trajectory is shifting away from rare diseases to help people suffering from the most common metabolic and complex diseases. As a result, gene therapy will veer towards the mainstream and design and develop technologies to achieve this objective. 

With the help of institutional investors, Ramaswamy expects Kriya to pioneer transformative improvements in the field of gene therapy in terms of cost, efficiency, and scale. The funding round, he says, is a step towards achieving the full potential of gene therapy across vast areas.

This explains why a portion of the financing proceeds will fund Kriya’s manufacturing technology and vector design platform, both of which are envisioned to enhance efficiency and reduce cost.

Ramaswamy added that the gene therapy community had gathered significant lessons from the past gene therapies. These lessons can be applied to “go after increasingly complex problems,” beginning with diseases with known etiology, such as diabetes.