NK:IO awarded £1.6M grant to develop NK cell therapy

natural killer NK cells

NK:IO, a U.K. company working on natural killer (NK) cell biology applied to the development of exceptionally potent, off-the-shelf cell therapies targeting solid tumors, has been awarded £1.6 million ($2.1 million) in grant funding from Innovate UK’s New Cancer Therapeutics program. 

The funding will support preclinical development, including development of a manufacturing process in collaboration with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, whose mission is to support the U.K.’s cell and gene therapy industry

NK:IO is based on pioneering discoveries in NK cell biology from Hugh J M Brady, professor of Immunology, and Matt Fuchter, professor of Chemistry, at Imperial College. NK:IO is exploiting these discoveries in its unique platform which activates blood stem cell progenitors to yield industry-leading NK cell tumor-killing potency and very high yield cell production, which it believes will be transformative in cancer cell therapy. 

In addition, this platform enables efficient engineering of progenitor cells to produce next-generation NK cells for further increases in potency or tumor targeting, which NK:IO is progressing for certain hard to treat tumor subtypes.

NK:IO, a spinoff of Imperial College, was founded in December 2020 by Brady, Fuchter, and Mike Romanos. The company’s first indication targeted will be ovarian cancer, in collaboration with Iain McNeish, professor of Oncology at Imperial College, and director of the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre.

Mike Romanos, co-Founder and Interim CEO, NK:IO, said: “We are very excited by the potential of NK:IO’s platform to address unmet needs in cancer therapy and delighted to receive grant funding from this highly competitive new Innovate UK program. The funding will directly support our collaboration with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult in a program of development work to scale our products and make them clinic-ready for our first clinical application in ovarian cancer.”

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