Intellia Adds ONK's NK Cells to Cancer Immunotherapy Portfolio

Intellia_Courtesy of company

On Tuesday, Intellia Therapeutics announced it has teamed up with ONK Therapeutics Ltd. to conduct NK cell-based cancer immunotherapy research as part of a licensing and collaboration agreement.

Intellia develops curative therapies using CRISPR-based technologies, while ONK engineers optimal natural killer (NK) cell therapies to heal cancer patients. Together, they hope to develop, engineer and test new allogeneic CRISPR-edited NK cell therapies.

Naturally occurring as part of the immune system, NK cells are specialized and mobilize the immune system against abnormal cells such as cancer cells. As of late, many cancer immunotherapy researchers have focused their efforts on effectively developing and engineering NK cell-based cancer therapies.

Under this license, ONK will use Intellia’s proprietary ex vivo CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing platform and its lipid nanoparticle (LNP)-based delivery technologies to develop up to five allogeneic NK cell therapies. ONK will also receive the exclusive right to use the guide RNAs (gRNAs) developed in collaboration with Intellia in engineering those NK cell products. Intellia will receive up to $184 million per product and royalties up to mid-single digits. In addition, Intellia has the option to co-develop and co-commercialize up to two products worldwide with first dibs on commercialization in the U.S, while ONK will retain lead commercialization rights outside the U.S.

ONK’s lead product, ONKT-102, is not covered by this co-development and co-commercialization option, as it is being developed for the treatment of patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, for which ONK will retain sole rights.

“We look forward to working with ONK in the development of allogeneic NK cell therapies for patients with cancer," said Intellia President and Chief Executive Officer John Leonard, M.D. “This collaboration, which combines Intellia’s industry-leading CRISPR technology platform and ONK’s expertise in NK cell technology, offers yet another powerful example of how we’re leveraging our strategic collaborations to address life-threatening diseases for patients in need.”

ONK Chief Executive Officer Chris Nowers expressed his company’s excitement about the partnership.

“We believe combining Intellia’s ex vivo genome editing and LNP delivery platforms with our suite of proprietary NK cell gene edits has the potential to create optimally engineered NK cells with enhanced cytotoxicity, persistence and an improved metabolic profile that hold tremendous promise to advance the treatment of both hematologic malignancies and solid tumors,” he said, adding that the collaboration allows ONK to deliver against its strategy as it evolves into a clinical-stage company.

This news comes not two weeks after Intellia announced the acquisition of Rewrite Therapeutics, Inc., marking a trend of rapid expansion for the company, spurred on by recent revolutionary innovations. As part of that deal, the company acquired more precise and efficient DNA writing technology.

It also appears that Intellia may be moving further into (CAR) T-cell therapy as it partners with Kyverna to treat autoimmune diseases. Whether the therapies are in vivo or ex vivo, CRISPR technology is foundational to Intellia’s efforts. By acquiring new and improved gene editing methods through these partnerships and acquisitions, the company is expanding its toolkit for broader reach in that mission.

Featured Jobs on BioSpace

Back to news