Nkarta Therapeutics Announces Exclusive License to Natural Killer Cell Technology From National University of Singapore and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., June 11, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nkarta Therapeutics, a privately-held cell therapy company developing Natural Killer (NK) immune cells to fight cancer, today announced that it has entered into a worldwide exclusive license agreement for proprietary Natural Killer cell engineering technology jointly owned by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  The license, negotiated by the Industry Liaison Office (ILO) of NUS and the St. Jude Office of Technology Licensing (OTL), includes several issued patents and patent applications related to methods to generate large numbers of fully functional NK cells as well as compositions of chimeric receptors for targeting NK cells to tumors and extending their life-span.  The licensed technologies are all based on discoveries by Professor Dario Campana, M.D., Ph.D., of NUS and formerly of St. Jude, who is credited with major advances in chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) cell therapy in addition to Natural Killer cell therapy.

“Through this agreement, we have solidified our position as leaders in Natural Killer cell technology,” said Paul Hastings, president and chief executive officer of Nkarta.  “Natural Killer cells have a unique, innate ability to target and destroy cancer cells, but the amount generated by the body is not sufficient to overcome the disease.  With this license we have gained access to exclusive expansion and targeting technologies that will generate an abundant supply of our proprietary engineered and enhanced NK cells that can selectively kill tumor cells.”

Dr. Campana added, “As a scientific founder of Nkarta, I am pleased to see the company advance its technology, which enhances the potential of NK cells as a next-generation cell therapy.  The company has expertise in key aspects of NK cell engineering, including ways to improve recognition of tumor targets, to support persistence and sustained activity, and to produce genetically-modified NK cells in sufficient quantity to meet clinical requirements.”

About Nkarta

Nkarta Therapeutics was founded on the proprietary, robust and well characterized Natural Killer (NK) cell expansion technology pioneered by Dario Campana.  The company is focused on leveraging the natural potent power of NK cells to identify and kill abnormal cells and recruit adaptive immune effectors to generate responses that are specific and durable.  Nkarta is combining its NK expansion platform technology with proprietary cell engineering technologies to build differentiated autologous and allogeneic cell therapy candidates for the treatment of cancer.  Founded in 2015, the company’s investors include SR One, NEA and Novo Ventures.  For more information, please visit the company’s website at www.nkartatx.com.


NUS ILO plays a pivotal role in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at NUS. It actively promotes commercialization of technology-based companies through entrepreneurial education, mentorship and investment in spin-off companies and dynamic industry engagement. Its initiatives support the entrepreneurial journeys of faculty and graduate students alike and focus on achieving impact from research conducted at NUS.


Nadir Mahmood

Sylvia Wheeler