– IRELAND, Galway – ONK Therapeutics Ltd, an innovative natural killer cell therapy company, today announced that the company has raised $8M financing led by Acorn Bioventures alongside current shareholders, principally experienced biopharmaceutical executive, Seamus Mulligan, bringing the total raised in the last six months over $14M.
The company also announces the appointment of Chris Nowers as CEO. Concurrent with the financing, Dr Isaac Manke, partner at Acorn Bioventures and CEO, Chris Nowers will join the board of directors.
The new investment will be used to expand the team, its pre-clinical R&D and its manufacturing capabilities, to progress its novel, dual-targeted, natural killer cell therapy platform towards human clinical trials.
Chris Nowers, the CEO, said “I was attracted to the company’s innovative and unique approaches, which harness the natural biology of NK cells, and further optimize them through genetic modifications to improve both their cytotoxicity and functionality. This exciting off-the-shelf platform has the potential to produce a next-generation of cell therapies, which could improve performance and overcome some of the shortcomings seen with earlier approaches.”
Dr Isaac Manke said “ONK Therapeutics is a highly innovative next-generation NK cell therapy company with an exciting portfolio of research stage assets targeting both haematological and solid tumours. It is anticipated that this financing will enable the company to progress multiple programs through IND enabling work and towards clinical studies.”
Founded in 2015, by CSO Prof. Michael O’Dwyer, ONK Therapeutics is a pre-clinical stage company dedicated to the development of a best-in-class, off-the-shelf, dual-targeted NK cell therapy platform, targeting solid and haematological cancers. This unique approach combines the expression of a chimeric antigen receptor and a high affinity, membrane-bound TNF related apoptosis-inducing ligand variant. This is coupled with a strong research focus on strategies to enhance homing and persistence as well as to overcome exhaustion, including the exploration of proprietary gene edits, such as the deletion of checkpoint inhibitory receptors in NK cells. The company is advancing an expanding portfolio of product candidates based on this unique platform.
Chris Nowers joins as CEO to lead the company’s expansion and development. Chris is an experienced biopharma executive, with significant cell therapy expertise from his tenure at both Kite Pharma and Cell Medica. Additional roles spanning more than 25 years in the biopharma industry include senior leadership positions as CEO of Avantogen Oncology, General Management roles at Amgen, and senior global and regional commercial leadership roles in the field of immunology at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
The company’s lead research program, ONKT101, is a dual-targeted NK cell therapy incorporating a CD19 CAR and TRAILv targeting the death receptor pathway intended for the treatment of relapsed/refractory B cell malignancies. This program is partnered with Avectas and will utilize its proprietary SOLUPORETM technology as a means of non-viral genetic modification. The second program, ONKT102, combines an optimized affinity CD38 CAR and a TRAILv targeting DR5 intended for the treatment of patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.
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 solid and haematological cancers.
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 platform is based on a dual-targeted NK cell expressing both a chimeric antigen receptor targeting a known tumour antigen and a TNF related apoptosis-inducing ligand variant targeting the death receptor pathway. This unique approach has the potential to enhance efficacy by addressing both intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways and to reduce the susceptibility to possible target antigen escape through the engagement of tumour antigen-independent TRAILv.
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. The company’s second program ONKT102, combines an optimized affinity CD38 CAR and a TRAILv targeting DR5, intended for the treatment of patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.
In addition to the unique dual-targeted NK cell therapy platform, the company has a strong research focus on strategies to enhance homing, persistence, and overcoming exhaustion, including the exploration of proprietary gene edits, such as the deletion of checkpoint inhibitory receptors in NK cells.
Based in the med-tech hub of Galway, Ireland, ONK Therapeutics shareholders include Acorn Bioventures, ALSHC and Enterprise Ireland.
For more information: https://www.onktherapeutics.com/
About Acorn Bioventures
Acorn Bioventures invests across stages in small-cap public and private biotechnology companies focused on bringing novel innovative medicines to patients. Their investment flexibility allows them to provide value across the entire spectrum from seed financings, cross-over financings, IPOs, registered direct offerings, PIPEs, open market purchases, etc. Acorn Bioventures’ investment process is based on fundamental research. They look for paradigm-changing medical therapies, undiscovered or underappreciated assets, backed by outstanding teams.
For more information: http://www.acornbioventures.com/
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