Collaboration to Discover Cancer Immunotherapies Focused on Natural Killer Cells

23 April 2020

GMP News

Gilead Sciences, Inc., Kite, a Gilead Company, and oNKo-innate announced the companies have entered into a three-year cancer immunotherapy research collaboration to support discovery and development of next-generation drug and engineered cell therapies focused on natural killer (NK) cells.

Current cancer immunotherapy approaches primarily focus on T cell mediated anti-tumor immunity, including checkpoint inhibition and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy. Like T cells, NK cells are a class of lymphocytes (white blood cells) that play a critical surveillance and effector role in the immune system. NK cells and T cells each have the potential to attack cancer cells, but have different mechanisms for tumor cell killing. Thus, appropriately activated and targeted NK cells may represent a differentiated approach that would be potentially complementary and synergistic with T cell mediated anti-tumor strategies.

Through this research collaboration, oNKo-innate will use genome-wide screening techniques and its proprietary technology platform to discover novel immune cell targets that enhance NK cell anti-tumor immunity and to create NK cell therapies. For Gilead, oNKo-innate will execute screens to identify and validate targets to seed internal Gilead immuno-oncology discovery programs. For Kite, oNKo-innate will create and evaluate NK constructs for Kite’s development of next-generation cell therapies.

Under the terms of the agreement, oNKo-innate will receive an upfront payment and will be eligible to receive additional payments based on achievement of certain clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as sales royalties across the immuno-oncology and cell therapy programs.

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