Sorrento entered the adoptive cellular immunotherapy field in December 2014 via a mutually-exclusive partnership with Conkwest, Inc., now NantKwest, Inc., an immuno-oncology company. Sorrento and NantKwest will jointly develop CAR.TNK™ (Chimeric Antigen Receptor Tumor-attacking NK cells) immunotherapies based on NantKwest’s proprietary Natural Killer (NK) cell-line based therapy and CARs derived from the G-MAB library for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases. Notably, in keeping with Sorrento’s vision, the use of the NK cell line will allow for the generation of “off-the-shelf” CAR-based cellular therapies potentially addressing critical manufacturing bottlenecks encountered with current other cell therapy approaches.
This partnership was established via an investment by Sorrento into Conkwest. In July 2015, NantKwest went public (NASDAQ: NK) and Sorrento still hold about 5.6 million NK shares. To further expand and bundle Sorrento’s efforts in cellular immunotherapies, a subsidiary named TNK Therapeutics, Inc. was established in May 2015. Recently, TNK Therapeutics acquired multiple preclinical and clinical stage chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T immunotherapy programs as well as underlying CAR-T technology through the acquisition of two privately-held biotechnology companies. The CAR-T programs focus on targeting solid tumors as well as infectious diseases.
Our CAR-T cell programs targeting solid tumors are currently being tested in preclinical and clinical stages. The most advanced CAR-T programs in development are currently in Phase I clinical trials.
“Our partnership with NantKwest advances cellular immunotherapy with “off-the-shelf” CAR.TNK® technology.”
– Dr. Gunnar Kaufmann, Head of Research
Our CAR.TNKs hold significant potential for immunotherapeutic applications as they possess an excellent specificity for and cytotoxicity toward tumor cells combined with safety due to limited persistence in patients and reduced production of certain cytokines frequently associated with adverse events in CAR-T therapies. There are currently several prospective CAR.TNKs in preclinical development.