CULVER CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--NantKwest, Inc. (Nasdaq: NK), a clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on harnessing the power of the innate immune system by using natural killer cells to treat cancer, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases, today announced the appointments of three senior-level executives: Andreas Niethammer, M.D., Ph.D., as executive medical director; Dvorit Samid, Ph.D., as senior vice president of medical affairs; and, Jerel A. Banks, M.D., Ph.D., as senior vice president mergers and acquisitions.
"With these appointments, we have substantially augmented and strengthened our senior management team with accomplished executives," said Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., chairman and chief executive officer of NantKwest. "Drs. Niethammer, Samid and Banks bring deep and relevant expertise, knowledge and experience in critical roles to our organization, as well as strong leadership and strategic direction to help propel NantKwest forward."
Most recently, Dr. Niethammer was vice president clinical development immune oncology for privately held Poseida Therapeutics. He is an associate professor of oncology at Ruprecht-Karls-Universitaet Heidelberg (Heidelberg University) and co-founded Vaximm AG, a Swiss-based company focused on oral vaccines for cancer and infectious diseases. Previously, Dr. Niethammer was vice president clinical development for Tocagen, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, and before that served in senior level roles with Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Company and ImClone, where he focused on cancer immunotherapy and drug development.
Dr. Samid has more than 30 years of oncology research and drug development experience. She most recently served as vice president of medical affairs for Synta Pharmaceuticals, after holding similar positions with several other pharmaceutical companies, including ImClone Systems, Allos Therapeutics, Abraxis Oncology and Hoffman-La Roche. Prior to joining pharma, Dr. Samid was an associate professor at the University of Virginia's Cancer Center and a section chief for the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Samid earned a doctorate degree in Cell Biology from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. She has authored more than 80 publications in oncology and holds 19 patents.
Prior to joining NantKwest, Dr. Banks served as vice president, portfolio manager and research analyst for the Franklin Biotechnology Discovery Fund at Franklin Templeton Investment. Previously, he worked as a senior equity research analyst covering the biotechnology sector at Sectoral Asset Management Inc. and Apothecary Capital. Before that Dr. Banks was an equity research associate on the healthcare investment team at Capital Research and Management. Dr. Banks earned an M.D. and Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Brown University and holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Princeton University.
About NantKwest Inc.
NantKwest (Nasdaq:NK) is a pioneering, next generation, clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on harnessing the unique power of our immune system using natural killer (NK) cells to treat cancer, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases. NK cells are the body's first line of defense due to the innate ability of NK cells to rapidly identify and destroy cells under stress, such as cancer or virally-infected cells.
NantKwest's unique NK cell-based platform, with the capacity to grow active killer cells as a biological cancer therapy, has been designed to induce cell death against cancer or infected cells by three different modes of action: (1) Direct killing using activated NK cells (aNK) that release toxic granules directly into the cell through cell to cell contact, (2) Antibody-mediated killing using haNKs, which are NK cells engineered to incorporate a high affinity receptor that binds to an administered antibody, enhancing the cancer cell killing effect of that antibody, and (3) Targeted activated killing using taNKs, which are NK cells engineered to incorporate chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to target tumor-specific antigens found on the surface of cancer cells.
Our aNK, haNK and taNK platform addresses certain limitations of T cell therapies including the reduction of risk of serious "cytokine storms" reported after T cell therapy. As an "off-the-shelf" therapy, NantKwest's NK cells do not rely on a patient's own often compromised immune system. In Phase 1 clinical trials in patients with late stage cancer, NantKwest's NK cells have been successfully administered as an outpatient infusion therapy without any reported severe side effects, even at doses of 10 billion cells.
By leveraging an integrated and extensive genomics and transcriptomics discovery and development engine, together with a pipeline of multiple, clinical-stage, immuno-oncology programs that include a Phase 2 trial for a rare form of melanoma and the planned initiation of a clinical trial of NK cells targeted to breast cancer, we believe NantKwest is uniquely positioned to be the premier immunotherapy company and transform medicine by delivering living drugs in a bag and bringing novel NK cell-based therapies to routine clinical care.