ImmunityBio and NantKwest announced they have entered into an agreement to merge in a stock-for-stock transaction. The combination will create an immunotherapy and cell therapy company focused on oncology and infectious disease.
Together, ImmunityBio and NantKwest will have a broad, clinical-stage pipeline – including 13 assets in clinical trials and 11 in Phase II to III – as well as an early-stage pipeline to address other difficult to treat cancers.
“The combination of NantKwest’s Natural Killer (NK) cell platform and ImmunityBio’s immunotherapy fusion protein, immunomodulator, and adenovirus platforms have already resulted in complete responses in late-stage, difficult to treat metastatic cancers. To date, complete responses have been noted in patients with second-line or greater metastatic pancreatic cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, head and neck cancer, and Merkel Cell Carcinoma. This strong track record of combination immunotherapies across the two companies’ platforms support the potential of the combined assets to transform the future of immunotherapy beyond checkpoints by synergising NantKwest’s cell-based therapies with ImmunityBio’s immunotherapy platforms,” said a statement from the companies.
ImmunityBio also announced that its IL-15 fusion protein, Anktiva, with FDA Breakthrough Therapy status for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer CIS has achieved its primary endpoint with 72 per cent complete response
Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD and Founder, ImmunityBio said, “We are developing next-generation immunotherapies to defeat cancer and infectious disease. By combining ImmunityBio’s immunotherapy platform, which includes the Anktiva IL-15 superagonist, with NantKwest’s natural killer cell platform, the merged entity will have a powerful and broad product portfolio that can activate both the innate (natural killer cell and macrophage) and adaptive (T cell) immune systems to create long-term immunological memory. What distinguishes the merged entity is the late-stage immunotherapy product pipeline that is designed to eliminate the need for high-dose chemotherapy, improve the outcomes of current CAR T cell therapies, and extend beyond checkpoint inhibitors. With 13 clinical trials across multiple tumour types at Phase I to III and with the combined talent in research, clinical development and manufacturing, the merged entity is poised to be a leader in the immunotherapy space.”
Rich Adcock, NantKwest, CEO said, “With the integration of ImmunityBio’s pipeline, cutting-edge R&D capabilities, talented employees and clinical expertise, we expect to accelerate the delivery of new treatments for patients with unmet needs. Together we can unlock the combined potential of our assets, and look forward to building on our continued success as one company.”
Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong to serve as Executive Chairman, Richard Adcock will be CEO of the new entity.