A multi-asset precision oncology company

Kirilys Therapeutics, Inc. (“Kirilys”) was founded by Catalys Pacific as a multi-asset precision oncology company. Kirilys’ lead asset is KRLS-017, a selective and potent Cyclin Dependent Kinase 7 (“CDK7”) inhibitor for multiple oncology indications, in-licensed from UBE. CDK7 has been implicated as a key regulator of both transcriptional addiction and cell cycle dysregulation in tumors and therefore represents an attractive target for therapeutic intervention across a broad range of solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. A best-in-class CDK7 inhibitor could also be optimized using a biomarker strategy to select for patient responders.

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Source Company
Syndicate Partners

Three Questions Answered

Yoichi Funayama
Yoichi Funayama
Senior Executive Officer & General Manager of the Pharmaceutical Business Division of UBE
What is the unmet medical need addressed by Kirilys’ lead asset?

Worldwide, an estimated 19.3 million new cancer cases and almost 10.0 million cancer deaths occurred in 2020. Despite the development of a variety of new drugs for the treatment of cancers, the disease has not yet been eradicated, requiring the development of drugs with new mechanisms of action. Kirilys’ lead asset, KRLS-017, is targeting the ubiquitously expressed CDK7 in a variety of cancer types, which could be a novel treatment for cancers with high unmet medical needs including lung and ovarian cancer. In preclinical studies, KRLS-017 demonstrated best-in-class potency, selectivity, and anti-tumor efficacy along with very favorable properties for an oral drug, and thus is expected to make a great contribution for the treatment of cancers with high unmet medical need.

Why did you chose to work with Catalys Pacific to license out and develop the asset in the US?

UBE is a drug discovery and API manufacturing company and it does not have the required capability to take molecules to clinical development. Our business strategy is to develop molecules with novel targets for the treatment of diseases with high unmet medical needs and, when it reaches near an IND filing, to license the molecules to external partners. One of the fields with high unmet medical needs is that of antitumor drugs, and we have high hopes that KRLS-017 can contribute as one of the new treatment options in this area. Kirilys was founded to promote the development of therapeutics that combine innovative science in precision oncology with excellent drug discovery from Japan. We believe that the involvement of Kirilys, founded by Catalys Pacific with members having a high level of expertise and abundant experience in antitumor drug development, in the development of KRLS-017 will further raise the possibility to achieve our purpose.

Do you think Japan can benefit further by developing assets through newly created venture-backed companies, like Kirilys?

Catalys Pacific founded Kirilys as a multi-asset precision oncology company to combine groundbreaking science in precision oncology from D2G Oncology with excellent drug discovery from Japan. Kirilys has completed a seed financing led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. We believe the partnership with D2G Oncology and capital committed from global top-tier venture capital firms will help to maximize the value of KRLS-017 with a significant potential to address unmet medical needs for patients worldwide. Catalys Pacific’s “Company Creation Model” is an extremely attractive one for not only Kirilys, but also UBE and any Japan pharmaceutical company or drug discovery company. There are no other venture capital firms in Japan that can create the bespoke vehicles to advance the development of our assets.

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