Intellia, ONK Therapeutics advance CRISPR-edited NK cell therapies for cancer

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

February 16, 2022 -- Intellia Therapeutics and ONK Therapeutics have entered into a licensing and collaboration agreement to develop innovative cancer treatments by combining Intellia's CRISPR-based technologies with ONK's NK cell therapies.

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 agreement grants ONK a nonexclusive license to Intellia's proprietary, ex vivo, CRISPR-Cas9-based genome editing platform and its lipid nanoparticle-based delivery technologies to develop up to five allogeneic NK cell therapies. ONK will receive exclusive rights to certain Intellia guide RNAs 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 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 outside of the 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 exercises the co-development and co-commercialization option on an investigational product, in lieu of the potential royalties and milestones, Intellia will share 50% of any future profit and loss generated by the product.

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