NantKwest uses ASCO to say it wants to expand its cancer vaccine work

The biotech's billionaire mogul Patrick Soon-Shiong was recently given a role on the health IT advisory committee.

The last few days at ASCO were the biggest for oncology research. Not wanting to be left out, Patrick Soon-Shiong announced at ASCO that his biotech company NantKwest “expands [the] NANT cancer vaccine program,” although it hasn’t yet.

The biotech is known for making a lot of noise across a host of press releases, but with little in the way of detailed updates. Its ASCO release was no different.

In a 433-word press release, which spoke at length about the cancer vaccine, an experimental therapy that “includes the simultaneous combination of off the shelf natural killer cells (NK) with the endogenous activation of dendritic, T cell and NK cells to more fully enhance the innate and adaptive immune system of cancer patients,” it took until the very last paragraph to get the “update.”

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While heading up its release as: “NantKwest expands NANT cancer vaccine program with additional clinical trials announced addressing multiple cancer types across all stages of disease,” Soon-Shiong revealed that in fact, the biotech is simply “actively working to initiate” these trials.

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NantKwest said last month that it had been given FDA permission to start enrolling a phase 1b/2 trial of the cancer vaccine in pancreatic cancer patients. Now, the company says—as it has said before—that it wants to treat many more, including lung, breast, head and neck cancer, colon, melanoma, ovarian, urothelial, Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, sarcoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma. It still plans to.

It has, however, been a good week for Soon-Shiong. He had been rumored as the possible next FDA commissioner (Scott Gottlieb, of course, got this role in the end) and then as a possible science advisor to the Trump administration.

In the end, the billionaire biotech mogul was given a role at the health IT advisory committee.

First reported by Politico, which along with STAT has also undertaken a series of investigative pieces into Soon-Shiong and his business practices, he joins the 25-member committee that was authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act.