Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult to support the development of NK:IO’s natural killer cell therapy

In a new project, the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) will work with NK:IO Ltd, a leader in natural killer (NK) cell biology and developer of off-the-shelf therapies targeting solid tumours, to support the preclinical development of a NK cell therapy.

Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult to support the development of NK:IO’s natural killer cell therapy

NK cell therapies harness the ability of NK cells to recognise and kill cancerous cells. NK cells, however, cannot be easily expanded to create the number of cells that are needed to produce cell therapies on a large scale. NK cells also suffer from exhaustion, meaning that after a period of activity, they can no longer effectively kill cancerous cells.

NK:IO has developed a unique platform that addresses these challenges by activating blood stem cell progenitors to yield a very high number of NK cells with tumour-killing potency.

In this project, which is taking place at CGT Catapult’s new Edinburgh laboratories, CGT Catapult will advise and support NK:IO as it works towards developing a Good Manufacturing Practice manufacturing process. This will include developing a semi-automated expansion and formulation process for NK cells as well as providing recommendations on progression towards the clinic.

NK:IO has received £1.6m from Innovate UK’s BioMedical Catalyst ‘New Cancer Therapeutics’ programme to fund this project.

This project with NK:IO is the first industrial research and development collaboration taking place in our new Edinburgh laboratories. It is promising work, harnessing the intrinsic ability of natural killer cells to tackle disease and we look forward to supporting NK:IO in refining their cell development processes and hopefully to help this therapy progress to clinical trials.

Matthew Durdy, Chief Executive, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult

We are very excited by the potential of NK:IO’s platform to address unmet needs in cancer therapy and delighted to receive grant funding from this highly competitive new Innovate UK program. The funding will directly support our collaboration with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult in a program of development work to scale our products and make them clinic-ready for our first clinical application in ovarian cancer.

Mike Romanos, Co-Founder and Interim CEO, NK:IO