Allogeneic Natural Killer Cell Therapy Company Artiva Biotherapeutics Raises $78 Million

By Amit Chowdhry ● June 29, 2020
  • Artiva Biotherapeutics, an oncology company focused on developing and commercializing allogeneic natural killer (NK) cell therapies, announced that it has launched and closed $78 million

Artiva Biotherapeutics, an oncology company focused on developing and commercializing allogeneic natural killer (NK) cell therapies, announced that it has launched and closed $78 million in Series A funding. This round of funding was co-led by 5AM Ventures, venBio Partners, and RA Capital Management. And they were joined by Medivate Partners and seed investors and strategic partners GC LabCell (Green Cross LabCell Corporation) and GC (Green Cross Holdings Corporation). With this round of funding, Artiva will develop off-the-shelf universal NK cells for use in combination with monoclonal antibody therapy and tumor targeting CAR-NK cell therapies.

Artiva’s initial pipeline includes AB-101 — a universal NK cell therapy for use in combination with monoclonal antibodies. And the company plans to enter the clinic this year with AB-101 in combination with an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody for the treatment of relapsed refractory B-cell lymphoma.

The company is also advancing AB-201 (a novel HER2-specific CAR-NK cell therapy for the treatment of HER2+ solid tumors) and AB-202 (a CD19-specific CAR-NK cell therapy for the treatment of CD19+ B-cell malignancies). In each case, a large scale of production along with effective cryopreservation enables high and repeat dosing.

Artiva’s pipeline of universal and targeted NK cell therapies utilizes the innate anti-tumor biology and safety features of NK cells. The therapies are optimized for enhanced efficacy through chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), therapeutic antibody combination therapy, and genetic engineering. And the pipeline utilizes a manufacturing platform that supports large-scale production and cryopreservation of off-the-shelf allogeneic NK cell therapies and proprietary CAR-NK and NK-specific gene-editing technologies to augment therapeutic activity.

The company’s platform incorporates cell expansion, activation, and engineering technology developed and enhanced through mid-stage clinical trials by the company’s corporate partner GC LabCell. And Artiva has exclusive ex-Asia-Pacific license agreements with GC LabCell covering their core manufacturing and CAR technology and initial product candidates and an option to take exclusive ex-Asia-Pacific licenses to additional research candidates generated by GC LabCell under the governance of a Joint Steering Committee.

Artiva’s executive team brings diverse cell therapy and oncology experience to research and advance a pipeline of NK and CAR-NK cell therapies to treat cancer. The team includes Tom Farrell (President, CEO, and Director), Peter Flynn, Ph.D. (Chief Operating Officer), Jason Litten, M.D., (Chief Medical Officer), Anne Frese (Vice President, Human Resources), Eugene Helsel (Vice President, Regulatory and Quality), John KC Lim, Pharm.D. (Vice President, Clinical Operations), Sungyong Won, Ph.D. (VP, Alliance Management). And the company’s board of directors include Farrell, Brian Daniels, M.D. (5AM Ventures), Yong-Jun Huh (GC Holdings), Yu-Kyeong Hwang, Ph.D. (GC LabCell), Laura Stoppel, Ph.D. (RA Capital Management), and Yvonne Yamanaka, Ph.D., (venBio Partners).

Key Quotes:

“We have seen tremendous breakthroughs in redirecting immune cells against cancer, but patient access to these therapies has been limited by safety, scale, manufacturing, logistics, and cost issues. Our goal at Artiva is to do more, leveraging GC LabCell’s foundational work on true off-the-shelf NK cells into a pipeline of product candidates that are accessible to any cancer patient who may benefit.”

– Tom Farrell, President and CEO of Artiva

“The inherent biology of natural killer cells holds enormous therapeutic potential for cancer therapy, but until Artiva, technological barriers held back their advancement. Artiva is systematically resolving the barriers to safe and effective NK cell therapies at a scale that enables broader access to potentially life-saving cancer treatments.”

– 5AM Ventures partner Brian Daniels, M.D.