NantKwest Zeroes in on Natural Killer Cells, Posts Killer Stock Price

NantKwest, Inc. (NASDAQ: NK) shares rose Thursday after disclosing promising first in human clinical results of 300 doses of CD16 targeted, off-the-shelf cryopreserved natural killer cells (hank) in a novel cancer memory vaccine immunotherapy.

The firm, based out of Culver City, California, told the media Wednesday the recent successes of immunotherapy, such as checkpoint inhibition, have spawned a wave of enthusiasm for immuno-oncology.

"Unfortunately," said the news release, "only a subset of cancer patients respond to checkpoint inhibitor monotherapy, and many of these checkpoint-responsive patients will eventually relapse. In addition, cellular therapy in the form of CAR-T cells has shown little evidence of effectiveness in solid tumors. Thus, there remains a huge unmet need to address the rising pandemic of cancer with a paradigm shift in treatment."

According to CEO Patrick Soon-Shiong, "High-dose, uninformed, toxic chemotherapy damages the immune system and induces what is known as tolerogenic cell death. Natural Killer cells are the core innate immuno-protective mechanism against cancer.

"By developing a system of activating the patient’s own Natural Killer cells and T cells, as well as augmenting the patient’s NK killing ability with engineering off-the- shelf NK transfusions, we hypothesize that resistant cancer can be overcome."

NantKwest shares moved into Thursday’s final hour of trade ahead $1.11, or nearly 41%, to $3.82.