ONK Therapeutics Announces $ 21.5 Million Series A Funding to Advance Pipeline of Optimally Designed Next Generation Ready-to-Use NK Cell Therapies



January 6, 2022 09:00 UTC

GALWAY, Ireland & SAN DIEGO – (COMMERCIAL THREAD) – ONK Therapeutics, an innovative NK cell therapy platform company, today announced the closing of its $ 21.5 million Series A funding, led by current investors Acorn Bioventures and ALSHC, who were joined by Cormorant Asset Management .

The funding will allow ONK to maintain its strong momentum while advancing preclinical programs through comprehensive studies enabling IND, including in vivo proof of concept models in several programs. ONK will also continue to move towards a GMP manufacturing capability, as it optimizes both its proprietary cell engineering platform and process development.

ONK’s pipeline currently has three programs in preclinical development on hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. The company is a pioneer in the field of optimally designed natural killer (NK) cell therapies, using a suite of engineered strategies to optimize the cytotoxic potential, metabolic health and persistence of NK cells, while reducing the potential. of their depletion in the tumor microenvironment. This is made possible by the Company’s ability to make unique proprietary genetic modifications.

The set of patents owned and exclusively licensed by ONK cover the CISH knockout (KO) in the field of human NK cells for the treatment of cancer, regardless of the source of the NK cells; expression of TNF-bound, membrane-bound, high affinity (TRAILv) apoptosis-inducing ligand variants; and the suppression of checkpoint receptors in NK cells, including the extracellular proteins CD96, TIGIT, Siglec-7 and PD-1.

These different strategies are used across the ONK preclinical product portfolio, including:

  • ONKT102, the Company’s main program, an affinity-optimized NK CD38 CAR (chimeric antigen) cell therapy under development for the treatment of patients with relapsed refractory multiple myeloma
  • ONKT104, a CLL-1 CAR-NK program targeting AML stem cells, which is progressing into the later stages of its preclinical evaluation
  • ONKT103, which is optimized to treat solid tumors such as ovarian, breast and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and is based on MUC-1 associated with tumors targeting CAR NK cells

In addition, these programs will explore the incorporation of new genetic modifications, such as the CISH KO and TRAIL variants targeting DR5 or DR4.

The ONK also recently launched two programs focusing on the potential of highly functional CISH KO NK cells, namely:

  • ONKT105, exploring NK cells derived from CISH KO cord blood
  • ONKT106, exploring NK cells derived from CISH KO iPSC

The Company also continues to make significant progress on the manufacturing front, optimizing its process development, gene editing capability, efficient expansion techniques and cryopreservation capability. Together, they will support manufacturing as part of ONK’s progress towards GMP manufacturing of large numbers of NK cell therapy batches from a single bead.

Chris Nowers, CEO of ONK Therapeutics, said: “We thank our existing investors for their continued support and are delighted to welcome Cormorant Asset Management as a new investor and Andy Phillips to our board of directors, as We are pursuing our goal of optimally designing, off- the-counter NK cell-based therapies to potentially cure cancer patients. This funding will allow us to continue to achieve our targeted strategy, by funding significant program progression, organizational development and business growth. Over the next 18 months, we have the potential for several IND approvals to enable our evolution into a clinical stage business. “

Commenting on the investment, Isaac Manke, Ph.D., Partner at Acorn Bioventures said, “During the 12 months of our investment, ONK Therapeutics has made excellent progress in advancing both its platform innovative new generation NK cell therapy and through its exciting portfolio of preclinical active ingredients. We are delighted to continue our support and to have introduced Cormorant Asset Management as a new investor to join us and founding investor ALSHC.

Andy Phillips, Ph.D., Managing Director of Cormorant Asset Management, said: “We are impressed with the company’s potential to make a highly innovative contribution to the rapidly evolving field of NK cell therapy, which we believe have the opportunity to improve the lives of patients in need of new treatments for their disease. We are happy to join current investor groups in ONK Funding as it looks forward to important proof of principle in vivo data and milestones that catalyze added value.

-ENDS-

About ONK Therapeutics www.onktherapeutics.com

ONK Therapeutics is an innovative cell therapy company dedicated to developing the next generation of ready-to-use, optimally designed natural killer (NK) cell therapies targeting both hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.

The company was founded in 2015 by Professor Michael O’Dwyer MD, of NUI Galway, an expert in translational research into multiple myeloma, the tumor microenvironment and the use of NK cells as cellular immunotherapy. Its turnkey cell therapy platform is based on optimally engineered NK cells that not only express a specific tumor antigen targeted CAR, but have also undergone different genetic modifications (e.g. CISH KO and CD38 KO) and Additional construction features including a TNF-Linked Apoptosis Inducing Ligand Variant (TRAILv) targeting the death receptor pathway via DR4 or DR5. This pioneering approach clearly aims to maximize the cytotoxic potential, metabolic health and persistence of modified NK cells.

ONK’s current preclinical pipeline includes three programs:

  • ONKT102 combines an affinity-optimized product candidate CD38 CAR NK which incorporates a CD38 KO, intended for the treatment of patients with relapsed / refractory multiple myeloma
  • ONKT103 combines a product candidate TA-MUC1CAR NK, for the treatment of solid tumors
  • ONKT104 combines a product candidate CLL-1 CAR NK, for the treatment of AML

In addition, these programs will explore the incorporation of new genetic modifications, such as the CISH KO and TRAIL variants targeting DR5 and DR4.

ONK has also initiated two programs focused on the potential of highly functional CISH KO NK cells, namely:

  • ONKT105, exploring NK cells derived from CISH KO cord blood
  • ONKT106, exploring NK cells derived from CISH KO iPSC

ONK has a exclusive worldwide patent license agreement with the Australian Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research (WEHI) providing the Society with rights to the CISH knockout (KO) in human NK cells for cancer treatment regardless of the source of the NK cells. CISH KO is a much sought after modification in NK cells for which the first US patent has since been granted to WEHI.

ONK Therapeutics is headquartered in the medical technology center in Galway, Ireland, with a wholly owned US subsidiary, ONK Therapeutics, Inc. based at JLabs @ San Diego. Shareholders include Acorn Bioventures, Cormorant Asset Management, ALSHC (primarily Seamus Mulligan) and Enterprise Ireland.

follow us on Twitter @ONKTherapeutics and LinkedIn.

See the source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220106005051/en/



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