Gilead, Kite, and oNKo-innate Enter into Three-Year Cancer Immunotherapy Research Collaboration

April 22, 2020

The companies will collaborate on the discovery and development of next-generation drug and engineered cell therapies focused on natural killer cells.

Gilead Sciences; Kite, a Gilead company; and oNKo-innate, a discovery-stage biotechnology company based in Santa Monica, CA, announced on April 21, 2020 that they have entered into a three-year cancer immunotherapy research collaboration for the discovery and development of next-generation drug and engineered cell therapies focused on natural killer (NK) cells.

Through the agreement, oNKo-innate will obtain an upfront payment and will be eligible to receive further payments if certain clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones are met, along with sales royalties across the immuno-oncology and cell therapy programs, according to a Gilead press release.

The partnership will use genome-wide screening to discover novel immune cell targets that increase NK cell anti-tumor immunity and to generate NK cell therapies, according to the release. oNKo-innate will implement screens to identify and authorize targets to seed internal Gilead immuno-oncology discovery programs and will create and evaluate NK constructs for Kite’s development of next-generation cell therapies.

“Gilead is pleased to partner with oNKo-innate as a leader in this new and highly promising area of cancer immunotherapy,” said William A. Lee, executive vice-president, Research, Gilead Sciences, in the press release. “We have a strategic focus of growing both our expertise and pipeline in immuno-oncology and we believe this exciting collaboration will support each of these objectives as we work to discover and develop novel cancer therapies for patients.”

“Kite is committed to building upon our leadership in cell therapy as we seek to meet the needs of patients with cancer,” said Peter Emtage, senior vice-president of Research at Kite, in the press release. “Early clinical data utilizing adoptively transferred NK cells has been encouraging and we are excited by the opportunity to scientifically expand our capabilities in this area and to identify novel NK cell therapies to advance toward clinical development.”

“With more than 20 years of collective academic expertise in NK cell biology, we have long believed in the potential for NK cells to play a role in cancer immunotherapy,” added Jai Rautela, co-founder and CEO of oNKo-innate, in the press release. “We look forward to bringing this NK cell expertise and our unique screening techniques into a collaboration with Gilead and Kite to serve a common goal of discovering new treatments for patients.”

Source: Gilead