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Nkarta nets $114M to push natural killer cell therapies into the clinic

September 04, 2019 / Amirah Al Idrus

Amgen Ventures and Deerfield Management chipped in to a $114 million series B round for Nkarta, which now has the runway to start clinical trials for its natural killer (NK) cell therapy, build a manufacturing site and advance its earlier-stage pipeline. From chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapies to T-cell receptor treatments, cell therapy in cancer has focused on T cells. Nkarta has zeroed in on NK cells, which come from the same family as T cells but work a little differently. T cells are part of the adaptive immune system, meaning they need priming to hunt down antigen-presenting invaders or tumor cells. NK cells, on the other hand, are part of the innate immune system and don’t need such priming to target and kill tumor cells. Nkarta believes using NK cells could clear the hurdles that have limited the success of CAR-T therapies in blood cancers. It could also cut down on nasty side effects of CAR-T such as cytokine release syndrome, which happens when the CAR-T ...