London, UK and Galway, Ireland, and San Diego, USA 22 February 2021 - Cell therapy company ONK Therapeutics and blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan have entered into a collaboration to facilitate the development of the next-generation natural killer (NK) cell therapies to improve the lives of patients with haematological malignancies and solid tumours.
Anthony Nolan Cell & Gene Therapy Services will provide a consistent supply of umbilical cord blood and cord-derived NK cells as a choice of starting material for both ONK Therapeutics’ research activities and continued process development work. This source material is scalable and ethically-sourced from consenting donors.
The parties bring together their extensive experience in cell sourcing, cell processing, translational research, understanding of the tumour microenvironment, and exploration of NK cells as a foundation for cellular immunotherapy. In doing so they aim to expedite the development of much-needed new lifesaving cell therapies for patients with a broad range of cancers.
Diana Hernandez, Head of Immunotherapy at the Anthony Nolan Research Institute says: “Our innovative partnership with ONK Therapeutics will serve to accelerate vital research and development into haematological and solid cancer treatments. We see this as an exciting opportunity which will ultimately lead to better treatments, improving the lives of many more cancer patients.”
Chris Nowers, CEO of ONK Therapeutics says: “Anthony Nolan has a rich heritage in stem cell therapy research, including an enviable understanding of the biology of NK Cells and their processing. We look forward to continuing to partner with their team and to benefiting from their extensive know-how as we drive our programs towards clinical trials and beyond.”
About Anthony Nolan Cell and Gene Therapy Services
Anthony Nolan is the pioneering charity that saves the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders who need a stem cell transplant. Anthony Nolan’s Cell and Gene Therapy Services aim to facilitate ethical research and development through the sourcing and supply of donor starting materials to researchers and developers. With a register of over 850,000 donors, a cord blood bank, and four decades of experience providing stem cells, Anthony Nolan has the infrastructure, the expertise, and the skills to support the needs of the cell and gene therapy industry.
About ONK Therapeutics
ONK Therapeutics Ltd is an innovative cell therapy company dedicated to developing the next generation of ‘off-the-shelf’, dual-targeted NK cell therapies targeting haematological malignancies and solid tumours.
The company was founded in 2015, by Prof. O’Dwyer MD, of NUI Galway, an expert in translational multiple myeloma research, the tumour microenvironment, and exploitation of NK cells as cellular immunotherapy. Its core proprietary off-the-shelf platform is based on a dual-targeted NK cell expressing both a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) targeting a known tumour antigen and a TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand variant (TRAILv) targeting the death receptor pathway (i.e. DR4 or DR5). This unique approach has the potential to enhance efficacy by addressing both intrinsic (e.g. CAR engagement of a tumour-specific antigen) and extrinsic (e.g. signalling through the death receptor pathway) apoptotic pathways and to reduce the susceptibility to possible target antigen escape through the engagement of tumour antigen-independent TRAILv.
Its pre-clinical pipeline comprises four programs:
In addition to the unique off-the-shelf, dual-targeted NK cell therapy platform, the company has a strong research focus on strategies to enhance homing and persistence, and overcome exhaustion, including the exploration of proprietary gene edits, such as the deletion of checkpoint inhibitory receptors in NK cells.
ONK Therapeutics is headquartered in the med-tech hub of Galway, Ireland, with a wholly-owned US subsidiary, ONK Therapeutics, Inc. based at JLabs @ San Diego. Shareholders include Acorn Bioventures, ALSHC (principally Seamus Mulligan), and Enterprise Ireland.