This brings its total equity financing to £3.2m and will enable the company to reach key milestones in progressing its differentiated NK cell therapy candidates into development.
The £3.2m equity funding is in addition to £1.9m grants awarded, comprising the recent Innovate UK New Cancer Therapeutics award of £1.6M and a previous Innovate UK Accelerator grant of £300,000.
The current investment round was led by Cancer Research Horizons and included the Imperial College Enterprise Fund, Start Codon, UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund and Meltwind.
NK:IO is based on pioneering discoveries in NK cell biology from Hugh Brady, professor of immunology and Matt Fuchter, professor of chemistry, at Imperial College.
The company is exploiting these in its platform which activates blood stem cell progenitors to yield NK cell tumor-killing potency and very high yield cell production, which it believes will be transformative in cancer cell therapy.
In addition, this platform enables efficient engineering of progenitor cells to enable the production of next-generation NK cells for further increases in potency or tumor targeting.
The investment will be used to drive NK:IO’s cell therapy candidates through full pre-clinical testing. This includes development of a manufacturing process in collaboration with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, whose mission is to support the UK’s cell and gene therapy industry.
Mike Romanos, co-founder and interim CEO, said: “We are very excited by the potential of NK:IO’s platform to address unmet needs in cancer cell therapy, including solid tumours, and to revolutionise the field. We are delighted by the support of our investors, including Cancer Research Horizons, who have joined to lead the round. Our recent success in securing non-dilutive funding under Innovate UK’s ‘New Cancer Therapeutics’ program further endorses this vision.”
Tony Hickson, chief business officer at Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Horizons, added: “Cancer Research Horizons believes that NK:IO’s technology, based on pioneering research from Imperial College, has transformational potential for cancer patients. We are delighted to support the company’s progression and excited to work with the team as they progress to the clinic.”