June 7, 2010

USA: Former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca's family is funding diabetes research

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SEATTLE, Washington / The Seattle Times / Business / Technology / June 7, 2010

Seattle biotech Kineta wins over funding for drug development

Kineta's latest investor is a charitable foundation created by former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, who lost his wife to diabetes, to spur its effort to develop a drug to fight autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

By Kristi Heim
Seattle Times business reporter

Seattle biotech company Kineta is betting that a toxin from a Caribbean Sea anemone can stop autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. The compound shows promise in animals. But in a tough market, where does a small startup find the kind of money and patience to support lengthy clinical trials to determine whether it works in humans?

The heart, it turns out, is a strong motivator. Kineta's latest investor is a charitable foundation created by a famous executive who lost his wife to diabetes.

Charles Magness, left, chief executive officer and president of Kineta, and Shawn Iadonato, executive vice president and chief scientific officer, are seen atop their South Lake Union offices. Magness and Iadonato founded Kineta in 2007. ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Kineta is announcing a new partnership with the family foundation of Lee Iacocca, the former Chrysler chairman who is funding diabetes research in honor of his first wife, Mary. The Iacocca Family Foundation is investing in Kineta to spur its efforts to develop the new drug, called ShK-186.

"They want a drug," said Shawn Iadonato, Kineta's chief scientist. "The financial consideration is secondary.
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