- Anthony Nolan Cell & Gene Therapy Services will provide umbilical cord blood and cord-derived NK cells to facilitate the development of ONK Therapeutics’ next-generation dual-targeted NK cell therapies
- Collaboration supports a common mission to improve the lives of patients with hematological malignancies and solid tumors
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 hematological malignancies and solid tumors.
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 tumor 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 hematological 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 hematological malignancies and solid tumors.
The company was founded in 2015, by Prof. O’Dwyer MD, of NUI Galway, an expert in translational multiple myeloma research, the tumor 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 tumor 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 tumor-specific antigen) and extrinsic (e.g. signaling through the death receptor pathway) apoptotic pathways and to reduce the susceptibility to possible target antigen escape through the engagement of tumor antigen-independent TRAILv.
Its pre-clinical pipeline comprises four programs:
- The lead program, ONKT101, is a dual-targeted NK cell therapy incorporating a CD19 CAR and TRAILv targeting DR5, intended for the treatment of relapsed/refractory B cell malignancies. This program is partnered with Avectas, with the company having responsibility for development to Phase 1
- ONKT102 combines an optimized affinity CD38 CAR and a TRAILv targeting DR5, intended for the treatment of patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma
- ONKT103 combines a TA-MUC1 CAR with a TRAILv targeting DR5, for the treatment of solid tumors
- ONKT104 combines a CLL-1 CAR with a TRAILv targeting DR4, for the treatment of AML
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.
Media enquiries (for ONK Therapeutics)
Sue Charles, Charles Consultants – +44 7968 726585 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ray Gordon, Gordon MRM – +353 87 2417373 email@example.com
Media enquiries (for Anthony Nolan)
For more information about the charity, please call the Anthony Nolan press office on 0207 424 1300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For urgent out of hours media enquiries, call 07881 265 285.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Anthony Nolan
Anthony Nolan saves the lives of people with blood cancer. The charity uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer and blood disorder patients in need of stem cell transplants. It also carries out pioneering research to increase stem cell transplant success and supports patients through their transplant journeys. Every day Anthony Nolan gives three people a second chance at life. Find out more at www.anthonynolan.org
Note to sub-editors
Please note that Anthony Nolan changed its name in 2001 and is no longer known as Anthony Nolan Trust.
What is a stem cell transplant?
If a patient has a condition that affects their bone marrow or blood, then a stem cell transplant may be their best chance of survival. Doctors will give new, healthy stem cells to the patient via their bloodstream, where they begin to grow and create healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
- About 2,000 people in the UK need a stem cell transplant from a donor every year
- 90% of donors donate through PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell collection). This is a simple, outpatient procedure similar to giving blood
- We need more young men to sign up, as they are most likely to be chosen to donate but make up just 18% of the register
- We need more people from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to sign up. Only 70% of transplant recipients receive the best match. This drops dramatically to around 37% if you’re from a Black, Asian, or ethnic minority background.
- Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK and the third biggest cancer killer. It accounts for 9% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in the UK.
- It costs £40 to add each new donor to the register so we always need financial support
- To join the Anthony Nolan register, you must be 16-30 and healthy. Anthony Nolan’s world-leading Research Institute has shown younger donors offer better survival rates for patients.