Two French companies team up on natural killer cell technology

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Meletios Verras
© GettyImages/Meletios Verras

Related tags: Natural killer cells, lymphoma

Emercell has selected Cell-Easy as a long-term CDMO partner for the scale-up and manufacturing operations of its allogeneic NK cell-based product, NK-001.

The French companies' objective is to to enter clinical phase in 2023. 

Cell-Easy, based in Toulouse, is specialized in the development and production of Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs). Its facilities include suites for customized process development, process scale-up, cGMP manufacturing along with analytical services for immune cells and adult stem cells.

Emercell, whose R&D activities are located at the Institute of Regenerative Medicine and Biotherapies (IRMB) at the Saint-Éloi University Hospital Center in Montpellier, has developed a platform technology to produce off-the-shelf natural killer (NK) cells, which are “highly potent”​ immune effectors, used alone as monotherapy, or in combination with therapeutic antibodies.

NK cells are genetically engineered to produce Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)-NK cells for the treatment of hematological malignancies and solid tumors.

Emercell will collaborate with Cell-Easy on the final stages of development and GMP manufacturing of flagship product, NK-001, which it describes as an optimized cell therapy product composed of highly activated and alloreactive allogeneic NK cells. It is intended for, among others, the treatment of lymphoma patients who are refractory to conventional therapies.

The French developer said its patented manufacturing process enables the same batch of NK cells to be used for multiple patients.

Patrick Henno, president of Emercell, commenting on the tie-up with the contract manufacturing and development organization (CDMO), and the fact that both entities were located in the Occitanie region, in the south of France, said. “The partnership fits perfectly with the region’s objectives regarding the development and production of new products in the field of biotherapies, particularly in the field of immunotherapy.”

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