Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. and Conkwest, Inc. announced a joint-cooperation for the development of a next-generation cancer immunotherapy, the CAR-TNK (short for “Car-Tank”), which will join each company’s expertise – Conkwest’s Neukoplast cell lines combined with Sorrento’s G-MAB technology.
The Neukoplast cell lines are natural killer cells (immune cells that attack and destroy abnormal cells) with an enhanced tumor-killing capacity (they can be re-engineered to express specific tumor receptors) and an enhanced binding capacity to therapeutic antibodies. These properties make the Neukoplast cell lines more lethal than activated natural killer cells.
The G-MAB technology consists of a large and diverse human antibody library that allows a fast and selective identification of therapeutic candidates by specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapeutics. Thus, it can enhance the anti-tumorigenic potential of the Neukoplast cell line.
CAR-TNK technology distinguishes itself from T-cell based therapies since these cells lack IL-6 expression (a factor associated with the cytokine release syndrome, a common complication in T-cell based immunotherapies) and also because CAR-TNK cells can be obtained in large quantities, therefore skipping the necessity for expensive and laborious patient derived T-cells. This type of technology can ensure the adequate commercial quantities and standardise consistency and quality control of the therapeutics delivered to patients.
Dr. Henry Ji, President and CEO of Sorrento commented in a press release, “We are extremely pleased with this strategic collaboration with Conkwest. With Sorrento’s expertise in antibody technology and diverse portfolio of fully human antibodies obtained from the G-MAB library, we believe we will be able to generate an army of stable CAR-TNK cell-lines, including but not limited to CD19-CAR-TNK™, PDL1-CAR-TNK™, PSMA-CAR-TNK™, and CD123-CAR-TNK™. It is our goal to rapidly move several of our CAR-TNK cell lines into the clinic to offer patients suffering from hematological malignancies and solid tumors an innovative immunotherapy to fight their cancers.”
Dr. Barry Simon, President and CEO of Conkwest added, “Conkwest has made important strides in establishing the safety and anti-cancer activity of Neukoplast in both pre-clinical and clinical phase I trials. We have also unlocked the potential of CAR-modified Neukoplast cells in preclinical models. By drawing from Sorrento’s treasure trove of CARs derived from their G-MAB library, we believe this partnership will enable us to realize an important part of our vision of designing and commercializing next generation Neukoplast products re-engineered to express one or more proprietary CARs that would matter most to disease outcomes. We are very excited about this opportunity in joining our resources and talent and look forward to working with the Sorrento team on this next generation of cancer immunotherapies.”