I/O pair Altor BioScience and NantKwest team up for experimental combo studies

Altor and NantKwest ($NK) have signed a new research collab that will see the two work in tandem by combining their early-stage experimental meds in the hope they can hit more cancer targets together.

The co-development deal focuses on Altor’s lead candidates that themselves are based on cytokines interleukin-15 (IL-15) and interleukin-2 (IL-2). These are currently undergoing early- to midstage tests for blood and solid tumors.

Under the scope of the deal, financial details of which were not divulged, privately held Altor and NantKwest will work combo studies of Altor’s IL-15 superagonist (ALT-803) and its single-chain T-cell receptor/IL-2 fusion protein (ALT-801) into NantKwest’s “natural killer (NK) cell therapy platforms for oncology indications,” although further details, including what indications, were not forthcoming.

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Hing Wong, Altor’s founder and CEO, said: “This partnership is a significant strategic collaboration for Altor and NantKwest. We believe there are significant opportunities to develop ground-breaking NK cell-based therapies using ALT-803 and ALT-801 in concert with NantKwest’s proprietary NK cell therapy and guided by a comprehensive genomic and proteomic molecular analysis using GPS cancer in the war against cancer.

“As Altor’s immunotherapeutic platform can play a key role in activating NK and T cells, we are enthusiastic to explore the synergy of this collaboration and rapidly advance clinical evaluation of these combination therapies in patients with cancer. Cell-based therapy combinations with Altor’s proprietary immunotherapeutics are an important component of our corporate strategy and we are excited to participate in the Cancer Moonshot 2020 program and the QUILT trials.”

NantKwest, run by the highly wealthy Patrick Soon-Shiong alongside his constellation of other companies, pulled off a $200 million IPO that valued it at more than $2.5 billion last year--although the company spends relatively little on research, and has been known more for its founder that its R&D work. The company had paid out only $60 million on research when it filed to go public.