Kenai lands $82m to advance Parkinson’s cell therapies

Company develops cell therapies designed to treat Parkinson’s and other disorders by replacing neurons lost due to neurodegeneration.

Biotech firm Kenai Therapeutics (formerly known as Ryne Biotechnology) has secured $82 million in a Series A financing round to advance its allogeneic cell therapies for neurological diseases. The funding will primarily support the completion of the clinical proof-of-concept trial for the company’s lead cell therapy candidate designed for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

San Diego-based Kenai leverages induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology, a Nobel Prize-winning breakthrough enabling the production of various human cell types, to develop off-the-shelf neuron replacement therapeutics for neurological disorders. The company’s approach to drug discovery involves using iPSC technology to replace neurons lost due to neurodegeneration in order to treat diseases like Parkinson’s.

Kenai’s lead candidate, RNDP-001, is an iPSC-derived, allogeneic dopamine progenitor cell therapy, which the company says has demonstrated promising results in preclinical models of Parkinson’s disease. The new funding will facilitate the submission of an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for RNDP-001 and the completion of Phase 1 clinical trials, expected to commence within the year.

The funding round was co-led by Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, Cure Ventures, and The Column Group, with participation from Euclidean Capital and Saisei Ventures.

“Kenai’s proprietary platform leverages an emerging approach to treating central nervous system disorders by replacing neurons lost due to neurodegeneration,” said Dr Jeff Jonas, chair and board member of Kenai Therapeutics and partner at Cure Ventures.

“Kenai’s approach to treating Parkinson’s disease is meaningfully differentiated from competing cell therapy approaches and has disease-modifying potential for patients with limited, primarily symptomatic, treatment options,” said Jeff Goater, partner at The Column Group.

Beyond RNDP-001, the company is actively developing a diverse pipeline of advanced off-the-shelf dopamine neuron replacement cell therapeutics for various neurological disorders.