Kytopen granted SBIR for nonviral NK cell gene editing platform

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

June 16, 2021 -- Kytopen has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to demonstrate that its nonviral delivery platform can enable natural killer (NK) cell gene editing at research and manufacturing scales.

To overcome challenges with the genetic modification of NK cells using conventional viral and nonviral technologies, Kytopen has developed its proprietary Flowfect platform. The platform is capable of engineering nonactivated NK cells with Cas ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) for gene editing.

Flowfect utilizes electromechanical energy to disrupt the cell membrane and introduce genetic material such as RNA, DNA, or CRISPR-Cas RNPs to a wide variety of hard to transfect primary cells. During the Flowfect process, a solution containing cells and genetic payload is suspended in a proprietary buffer that flows continuously through a channel while the solution is exposed to a low energy electric field. The platform can engineer over 2 billion cells per minute in a single channel, according to the firm.

As part of the grant, Kytopen is eligible for up to $2 million over a three-year period.

Schematic depictions of the core Flowfect technology.
A schematic depiction of the core Flowfect technology (center) and two implementations of the high-throughput Flowfect array (left) for automated discovery and Flowfect Tx (right) for clinical manufacturing. Image courtesy of Kytopen.
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