Glycostem and Ghent University sign license agreement on NK cell therapy technology

17th December, 2020 - Glycostem Therapeutics and Ghent University (UGent) have signed a license agreement for an innovative NK cell production technology. Ultimately, this agreement will bring significant benefit to targeted treatment of patients suffering from cancer. The agreement not only opens up new opportunities for development of NK-antibody combination therapies but also has significant positive impact on the production time of Glycostem’s lead product oNKord® and its second (CAR-NK) and third (TCR-NK) generation therapies – viveNKTM.

“This license agreement offers new opportunities for more targeted treatment of cancer patients. By using UGent’s technology we are able to increase the expression of CD16 receptors resulting in an increase of the NK-cell’s activity and its antibody binding properties. When a patient’s immunity is weak, administering NK-cells will boost the patient’s immune system and increase the antibody’s therapeutic effectiveness,” explains Troels Jordansen, CEO at Glycostem.

Glycostem’s NK-cell based therapies are manufactured in its in-house GMP licensed facility. “Ghent University’s technology has the potential to almost halve the time needed for NK cell progenitor cells to differentiate into fully functional NK-cells. By incorporating this in our processes both our manufacturing time and cost-effectiveness will be affected very positively without negative effect on the potency of the NK cells.  This is an important part of paving the way for further upscaling the production of our NK-cells,” says Troels Jordansen.

“We are glad to see our research translated to a clinical setting as it is based on many years of fundamental research into NK cell biology.” Tells Prof. Georges Leclercq, head of the UGent research team and group leader in the Cancer Research Institute Ghent (CRIG). “We hope that with this collaboration, we can positively impact the lives of many patient’s affected by difficult to treat cancers”.

Dr. Dominic De Groote (UGent Business Development) further explains: “This partnership is the result of continuing efforts by Ghent University and Ghent University Hospital to become a leading academic and clinical center for cell-based therapies. This technology is part of our growing portfolio of oncology and Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP) related assets that we are actively developing from the bench to the bedside through our translational platforms.”

Taking cellular immunotherapy to the next level

Glycostem is focused on developing first, second and third generation cancer treatments based on NK-cells. This licensing deal will affect Glycostem’s full portfolio. After a successful phase I study Glycostem initiated a first-of-its-kind pivotal trial in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with in-house manufactured nonmodified NK cells (oNKord®). Over the coming months, AML patients will receive this form of treatment as part of a phase I-IIa trial. A pivotal phase IIa trial for Multiple Myeloma (MM) patients is expected to start second half of 2021. This makes Glycostem one of the frontrunners in this promising field of cellular immunotherapy.