From The Editor | November 1, 2023

Krystal Biotech's Side Business: Gene-Based Aesthetics

By Ben Comer, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader

Krish Krishnan-Suma Krishnan
Krish Krishnan and Suma Krishnan

Krish and Suma Krishnan, the husband-and-wife team behind Krystal Biotech, are featured in the cover story of Life Science Leader’s November issue. The story details Krystal’s quest to bring the first topical, redosable gene therapy to patients with dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, a life-altering skin disease with no existing treatment. Krystal received FDA approval in May for Vyjuvek, which uses a modified herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) as a vector for delivering COL7A1 genes to the skin of patients. However, the magazine story didn’t cover Krystal’s side business, a company called Jeune Aesthetics.

In 2019, Krystal launched a subsidiary called Jeune Aesthetics to develop new applications of its STAR-D platform for the aesthetics market. Its first development candidate, called KB301, uses Krystal’s HSV vector and mechanism of action to deliver a COL31a transgene via intradermal injection, with the goal of boosting the skin’s ability to produce collogen, thereby improving the appearance of aging skin, such as the lines known as “crow’s feet.”

Although the science behind Krystal and Jeune’s products come from the same source, the companies don’t have the same goals, or the same financial model. “The reason to put Jeune into a separate subsidiary is from an end-market perspective,” says Krish Krishnan, chairman and CEO at Krystal, and board member at Jeune. “The kinds of investors and analysts are different, and the market is broadly cash pay. It’s very different from a company focused on rare diseases.” Krystal’s strategy is to become a fully-integrated rare disease company that partners in larger indications. Although Krystal will continue to provide manufacturing and support for Jeune as it progresses product candidates toward approval, ultimately the business will need to stand on its own, says Krishnan. Whether Krystal decides to spin Jeune out into a separate legal entity or seek a BD deal, “by the end of 2024, we would like Jeune to be talked about more comprehensively and separately from Krystal,” he says.