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Nkarta Therapeutics Presents Preclinical Data for CD19 CAR NK Program

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Nov. 18, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nkarta Therapeutics, a privately-held biopharmaceutical company developing engineered natural killer (NK) cell therapies to fight cancer, today announced preclinical data were presented in a poster session at the American Association for Cancer Research, Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy Meeting 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.  The poster, which was presented by Nkarta scientist Luxuan Buren, Ph.D., describes the evaluation of a series of engineered NK cells targeting CD19, a tumor marker found in a variety of B-cell malignancies.

In this research, NK cells were expanded using Nkarta’s proprietary stimulatory cell line, then transduced with a γ-retrovirus encoding different CD19 chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs, and membrane-bound IL-15, Nkarta’s proprietary approach to increase NK cell persistence.  In a series of in vitro and in vivo experiments, Nkarta scientists identified a CAR construct containing an OX40 co-stimulatory domain as optimal for further development.  This research was used to inform the selection of NKX019, Nkarta’s clinical candidate targeting CD19, with an IND expected in the third quarter of 2020.

“Our approach to engineering NK cells to treat cancer relies on deep understanding of NK biology and rigorous evaluation of different possible constructs before nominating a preclinical candidate,” said Paul Hastings, president and CEO of Nkarta Therapeutics. “For NKX019, we have again demonstrated that our proprietary expansion, persistence, cryopreservation and targeting technologies each provide significant and meaningful advantages over more commonly used approaches.”

About Nkarta

Nkarta Therapeutics was founded on the proprietary, robust and well characterized Natural Killer (NK) cell expansion technology pioneered by Dr. Dario Campana. The company is focused on leveraging the natural potent power of NK cells to identify and kill abnormal cells and recruit adaptive immune effectors to generate responses that are specific and durable. Nkarta is combining its NK expansion and cryopreservation platform with proprietary cell engineering technologies to generate an abundant supply of NK cells, engineer enhanced NK cell recognition of tumor targets, and improve persistence for sustained activity in the body for the treatment of cancer. Nkarta’s mission is to discover, develop and deliver novel off-the-shelf NK cell therapy product candidates that have a profound impact on patients. Founded in 2015, the company’s investors include Amgen Ventures, Deerfield Management, LSP, Logos Capital, NEA, Novo Holdings A/S, RA Capital Management, Samsara BioCapital and SR One. For more information, please visit the company’s website at www.nkartatx.com.

Sylvia Wheeler Alex Santos 
swheeler@wheelhouselsa.com asantos@wheelhouselsa.com