Kernal Biologics Enters Development Phase Reaching Critical Milestones for its First mRNA-Based Cancer-Therapeutic Product
In parallel, company expands team with seasoned drug developers and creates a business model to license a portion of its proprietary mRNA technology to global pharmaceutical and biotech for non-oncology applications — e.g., COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, auto-immune diseases, and metabolic disorders
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kernal Biologics, Inc. (Kernal Bio) — an early-development-stage mRNA-technology company developing cancer therapeutics designed to improve patients’ survival rate and quality of life — is on a fast track to transition out of proof-of-concept phase to product development. According to Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Yusuf Erkul, M.D., the company has recruited a powerhouse team, which has enabled Kernal Bio to meet key scientific milestones.
“A silver lining to the global pandemic has been the tremendous interest in companies like Kernal Bio because of all the excitement surrounding mRNA technologies. It helped us to assemble a dream team of experts in their respective fields from around the globe. One of the first questions we are typically asked is how Kernal Bio’s approach differs from other well-known mRNA companies,” said Dr. Erkul.
Like the proven, life-saving mRNA technologies in authorized COVID-19 vaccines — Kernal Bio’s mRNA technologies leverage the fundamental role that mRNA plays in the production of proteins (aka protein synthesis) and the awesome ability of the human body to learn how to handle external and internal threats and act as its own “munitions factory” to protect itself against disease. The mRNA technologies in use today are not specific and potent enough to treat a meaningful range of diseases successfully as a therapeutic. The critical differentiator is the combination of powerful encryption and onco-selectivity that comprises Kernal Bio’s mRNA technology. A Kernal Bio mRNA-based therapeutic is more specific (cancer cells: yes; non-cancer: no) and more potent.
Erkul explains, “With the new team on board, and invaluable guidance from our world-class scientific advisory committee, we were able to complete key milestone studies that suggest our mRNA technology is uniquely equipped for the tough battle against the tenacious, embedded adversary that is cancer. Our study conclusions: we’ve successfully passed the proof-of-concept phase in both our technical approach to achieving extrahepatic delivery of our mRNA and in our designs for hyper-selective activation in cancer cells. Our execution-driven team has transitioned eagerly to development — applying what we’ve learned to date toward getting our first cancer therapeutic into the clinic.”
Kernal Bio’s mRNA technology combines two proprietary mRNA encryption designs, increasing the potential to improve patient outcomes resulting from an unprecedented level of onco-selectivity the company expects to achieve compared to existing synthetic mRNA technologies. Erkul believes it is their company’s culture of approaching problems in a multidisciplinary fashion that has made them successful to date. This includes building a machine learning-backed computational pipeline that engineers mRNAs to allow for evasion of innate immune sensors in the body and encrypts mRNAs to avoid activity in normal (non-cancerous) tissues. “This is why we have described our advanced technologies collectively as ‘mRNA 2.0,’” he added.
Kernal Bio funded the expansion of the team with a portion of the $10.5 million in seed round funding, led by Hummingbird Ventures, which closed earlier this year. Dr. Erkul commented, “We are very grateful to our investors and are making exciting progress toward our goal of clinical trials in humans. Critically important to our achievements, this seed round enabled us to recruit an extraordinarily dynamic, passionate, and multicultural team of experts: from medicine, immunology, synthetic and computational biology, and pharmacology — to extrahepatic delivery, formulation, as well as process and business development. Kernal Bio is now a dozen people strong. The team’s mission is to accelerate development, design, and execution of the pre-IND studies of our first cancer therapeutic product — and ultimately — to commercialize efficacious therapies that tangibly improve patients’ quality of life.”
Two of the company’s three new senior team members are completely focused on therapeutic product development, while a third is dedicated to Kernal Bio’s partnership program for non-oncology therapeutics. From infectious diseases, including COVID-19, to cardiovascular diseases to metabolic disorders — Kernal Bio is able to encode its mRNA to produce virtually any protein in a range of therapeutic areas. The company also recently initiated a Series A round of funding.
Dr. Erkul continued, “Because of significant interest from global pharma and biotech, we have decided to license our non-immunogenic mRNA and extrahepatic lipid nanoparticle delivery technologies for non-oncology applications. We knew a dedicated and experienced business development person would be required because this enables our development team to focus on cancer therapeutics, while opening up a quick path to revenue generation to help fund our internal development programs.”
About Kernal Biologics, Inc.
AT KERNAL BIO, we aim to harness the power of our mRNA technology to provide cancer patients with treatments that give them the best chance of beating their disease — while eliminating as many common side effects as possible. Our unique inside-out approach attacks diseases like cancer at the cellular level. Our proprietary mRNA technology is engineered to move in stealth, undetected by the immune system, and encrypted to home in on cancer cells, making it distinctively onco-selective. Thus, we maximize the potential to improve patient outcomes compared to existing synthetic mRNA. Beyond our work in cancer therapeutics, we also license a portion of our technology to global pharma and biotech companies for non-oncology applications, which helps further and fund our internal development programs.
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