Medical Innovation Exchange

Kyverna CEO, fresh off $319M IPO, says ‘we’re in the next phase of medicine’

Kyverna CEO Peter Maag, Ph.D., was unequivocal when asked how it feels to be one of biotech’s torchbearers for autoimmune-focused cell therapies. 

“I think we’re in the next phase of medicine; I think it’s the next 30 years,” he said, comparing the burgeoning modality to monoclonal antibodies. 

He and Kyverna just closed a $319 million IPO to prove just that, adding more financial caffeine to an awakening public marketplace that so far in 2024 seems significantly more amenable than in the prior two years.

Kyverna’s shares closed at $30 apiece on Thursday evening, more than $8 higher than the $22 price point that the company launched onto Nasdaq with earlier in the day. 

The biotech’s public-market plans began to form shortly after the company closed an upsized series B extension in August, bringing the total financing to $145 million. The larger priority, according to Maag, has been to accrue enough safety data to validate the modality’s use beyond oncology.

To Kyverna’s advantage, that data is now coming across four different trials in four indications, testing lead autologous asset KYV-101. 

The B-cell-focused therapy is currently being tested in lupus, systemic sclerosis, myasthenia gravis and multiple sclerosis. While 2023 was about producing safety data, 2024 is about showing efficacy, Maag says.

The IPO proceeds will allow the biotech to cement its pivotal trial strategy, which will guide the company toward the largest market opportunity and the fastest route to approval.

Multiple sclerosis is the clear market behemoth, but it wouldn’t be the fastest route. Maag touted the early efficacy signal seen in one myasthenia gravis patient, reported on in The Lancet Neurology. 

Don’t expect Kyverna to follow in the footsteps of fellow cell therapy company BlueRock and test KYV-101 in patients with Parkinson’s disease. That’s because, according to Maag, it’s unclear how much Parkinson’s is B-cell driven, potentially putting it outside of KYV-101’s wheelhouse. 

“I’m not sure on the Parkinson’s side that B cells play that prominent role that we would be able to see that level of effect,” he said. 

The fresh pile of cash will allow Kyverna to extend operations into 2026, a development that’s made more noteworthy by the company’s going-concern note in its public filing ahead of the listing. Kyverna management previously believed that its capital at the end of September 2023 would not be enough to fund operations for at least one more year. 

Naturally, raising more than $300 million assuages much of this concern, though the company did not elaborate on the filing when asked. 

“We’re not in a position to comment about the financials prior to IPO closing, and would have to defer addressing this point to a later date,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

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