Intellia and ONK Therapeutics announce collaboration to advance allogeneic CRISPR-edited NK cell therapies for the treatment of patients with cancer

Intellia and ONK Therapeutics announce collaboration to advance allogeneic CRISPR-edited NK cell therapies for the treatment of patients with cancer

February 17, 2022 Off By Dino Mustafić

Intellia Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:NTLA), a genome editing company focused on developing curative therapies leveraging CRISPR-based technologies, and ONK Therapeutics Ltd., an innovative company dedicated to developing optimally engineered natural killer (NK) cell therapies to cure patients with cancer, have announced a licensing and collaboration agreement.

Intellia Therapeutics explained in its press release that NK cells are specialized, naturally occurring immune cells that play a critical role in immune activation against abnormal cells, including cancer cells. NK cells have gained significant attention in the field of cancer immunotherapy and various approaches are being explored to effectively develop and engineer NK cell-based cancer immunotherapy.

The company said that the agreement grants ONK a non-exclusive license to 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 receive exclusive rights to certain Intellia guide RNAs (gRNAs) resulting from the collaboration for use in engineering those NK cell products. ONK will be responsible for preclinical and clinical development for the engineered NK cell therapies covered under the agreement. Intellia will be eligible to receive up to $184 million per product in development and commercial milestone payments, as well as up to mid-single digit royalties on potential future sales. In addition, the agreement grants Intellia options to co-develop and co-commercialize up to two products worldwide with rights to lead commercialization in the U.S. ONK retains lead commercialization rights ex-U.S. This co-development and co-commercialization option excludes ONK’s lead product ONKT-102, which is being developed for the treatment of patients with relapsed / refractory multiple myeloma, for which ONK retains sole rights. If Intellia chooses to exercise the co-development and co-commercialization option on an investigational product, in lieu of the potential royalties and milestones, Intellia will share 50 percent of any future profit and loss generated by the product.

“We look forward to working with ONK in the development of allogeneic NK cell therapies for patients with cancer. 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,” said Intellia President and Chief Executive Officer John Leonard, M.D.

“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. We are excited to partner with Intellia and are looking forward to a collaboration that allows us to continue to deliver against our strategy, as we evolve into a clinical-stage company,” said ONK Therapeutics Chief Executive Officer Chris Nowers.