Friday, May 22, 2020
Kleo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leading company in the field of developing next-generation, fully synthetic bispecific compounds designed to emulate or enhance the activity of biologics, and Celularity, Inc., a leading developer of allogeneic, or “off-the-shelf”, natural killer (NK) cell therapies, today announced a preclinical research collaboration to rapidly advance synergistic combinations of each company’s technology platform as potential treatments for COVID-19 and multiple myeloma.
The collaboration comes at an opportune time for both companies. Earlier this year, Kleo received IND authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test its CD38-targeting antibody recruiting molecule (ARMTM) in combination with autologous NK cells in a clinical study. In early April, Celularity received FDA authorization to evaluate one of its allogeneic NK cell products, CYNK-001, in COVID-19 infected adults. CYNK-001 is the only cryopreserved allogeneic, off-the-shelf Natural Killer (NK) cell therapy being developed from placental hematopoietic stem cells. It also is being investigated as a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), multiple myeloma (MM), and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
“We look forward to working with Celularity to advance the ARMTM technology platform across multiple drug programs,” said Doug Manion, MD, CEO of Kleo Pharmaceuticals. “Celularity’s cryopreserved allogeneic NK cells easily combine with the ARMTM platform, which is expected to facilitate NK cell targeting toward cancerous tumors or sites of viral infection.” Celularity’s CEO Robert Hariri, MD, PhD added, “We quickly realized the advantages of Kleo’s synthetic bifunctional technology, and the synergistic potential between ARMTM molecules and our allogeneic NK cells. The speed and modularity of the Kleo platform allow for the development of ARMTM-allogeneic NK cell combination therapies across a wide variety of indications.”
When used in combination with NK cells, ARMTM molecules behave similarly to chimeric antigen receptors, though their synthetic nature eliminates the need for genetic engineering. ARMTM molecules associate with NK cells via IgG antibodies bound to a first moiety, while also containing an interchangeable and customizable second moiety. Selection of the second moiety can be used to confer affinity of an ARMTM-NK cell complex against a biological target, such as the spike protein of COVID-19 particles or CD38 expressed on the surface of multiple myeloma hematologic tumors, ultimately facilitating NK-cell mediated destruction of target cells. This modular design allows ARMTM molecules to be broadly applicable across a range of drug programs.