Intellia and ONK Therapeutics Enter Gene-Editing Partnership

ONK will receive non-exclusive rights to Intellia’s proprietary ex-vivo CRISPR/Cas9 technology in the development of five allogeneic NK cell therapies.

Intellia Therapeutics, a gene-editing company, and ONK Therapeutics, a company developing natural killer (NK) cell therapies in oncology, announced a licensing and collaboration agreement on Feb. 15, 2022. NK cells are specialized, naturally-occuring cells that are critical in immune activation against abnormal cells, including cancer cells.

According to a company press release, ONK will receive a non-exclusive license to Intelia’s proprietary ex-vivo clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/ associated protein-9 (Cas9)-based genome editing platform and its lipid nanoparticle (LNP)-based delivery technologies for the development of five allogeneic NK cell therapies. Additionally, ONK will receive exclusive rights to certain Intellia guide-RNAs (gRNAs) resulting from the collaboration for use in engineering the NK cell products.

“We look forward to working with ONK in the development of allogeneic NK cell therapies for patients with cancer,” said John Leanorad, president and CEO, Intellia, in the press release. “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.”

“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,” said Chris Nowers, CEO, ONK Therapeutics, in the press release. “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.”

ONK will be responsible for both preclinical and clinical development of the engineered NK cell therapies. Intellia will receive up to $184 million per product in development, various milestone payments, and up to mid-single digit royalties on potential future sales. Intellia will also be given the option to co-develop and co-commercialize up to two products worldwide, and will have the rights to lead commercialization in the U.S.

Source: Intellia Therapeutics