Partner Spotlight: Kymera and Sanofi chase “undruggable” targets in immunology
While researchers have come a long way in identifying therapeutic targets and developing treatment strategies for many of the world's most challenging diseases, some therapeutic targets remain "undruggable" – proteins believed to be too difficult to bind with conventional molecules. But the Watertown, Massachusetts-based biopharmaceutical company Kymera Therapeutics believes these undruggable targets will not remain that way much longer.
In 2020, Sanofi announced its partnership with Kymera Therapeutics, combining Sanofi's resources and industry experience with the emerging biotech's expertise in targeted protein degradation (TPD) aiming to create new options for patients struggling with immunological and inflammatory (I&I) conditions.
"For us at Kymera, the immediate future is immunology – solving big problems with small molecules," said Nello Mainolfi, Kymera Therapeutics' CEO.
Mainolfi recently joined Naimish Patel, Sanofi's Global Head of Development in Immunology & Inflammation, to discuss the potential of TPD and how they are leveraging this modality to develop new treatments for patients in need.
Investigating natural machinery as potential treatment for diseases
TPD is being investigated as a novel therapeutic approach that leverages the human body's natural machinery to break down disease-causing proteins within the cell. When proteins are old, damaged, or in excess, they are tagged with a molecule called ubiquitin so that cellular structures that degrade proteins, or proteasomes, can recognize which proteins to target. This process is known as the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS).
Many immune-related disorders involve the dysregulation or dysfunction of specific proteins crucial in normal immune responses. TPD treatments could allow for the precise removal of these disease-associated proteins by leveraging the UPS mechanism to degrade them and alleviate their harmful effects on the cell, ultimately leading to potential therapeutic benefits in a patient.
Combining forces to research big problems
Through their collaboration, Kymera combines their research and subject-matter expertise capabilities with Sanofi’s clinical resources and drug development background. Collectively, Kymera Therapeutics and Sanofi remain focused on patients. Through this partnership, the research and development of TPD therapies continues with the goal of developing therapies for people struggling with immune-inflammatory diseases.
“We’re leveraging our strengths,” said Mainolfi. “Our strength is innovating in the TPD space and going after difficult-to-drug targets, and Sanofi represents a partner that can accelerate and broaden our opportunity in the clinic.”