Company Adds Immuno-Oncology And Clinical Trial Expert To Leadership Team
CULVER CITY, Calif. – May 18, 2017 — NantKwest Inc. (NASDAQ:NK), a pioneering, next generation, clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on harnessing the unique power of our immune system using natural killer (NK) cells to treat cancer, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases, announced today the appointment of John Lee, MD, FACS, as Senior Vice President of Adult Medical Affairs. In his new role, Dr. Lee will oversee regulatory strategy for clinical trials, medical writing and translation of pre-clinical science into the development of new trials.
“Adding Dr. Lee to our adult medical affairs team will help accelerate our efforts towards bringing impactful clinical trials to life,” said Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, Chairman and CEO of NantKwest. “As an esteemed medical professor and surgeon with extensive experience in oncology research, Dr. Lee’s leadership will be crucial to advancing the development of effective immunotherapy treatments.”
In addition to joining NantKwest, John Lee currently serves as Co-Director of the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Medicine, and has been a surgical oncologist with Sanford Health since 2008.
“Our ultimate goal is to reduce the overall cancer mortality rate by leveraging the body’s immune system to combat all types of cancer,” said Dr. Lee. “From our recent authorization from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for the NANT Cancer Vaccine, to our partnership with Viracta Therapeutics, Inc. to combine our platform of natural killer (NK) cell therapies with the company’s Phase 2 drug candidate, I’m thrilled to be a part of a company that is on its way to revolutionizing the way we treat this complex disease.”
Dr. Lee’s prior experience at Sanford Health was largely focused on developing a comprehensive head and neck cancer program aimed at bringing immuno-oncology drugs to patients. In addition, as medical director of cancer research he helped develop several other cancer multi-disciplinary teams that focused on clinical and research excellence. By initiating and overseeing the health system’s protocol review committee for all incoming oncology trials, Dr. Lee has developed several clinical trials within Sanford. Throughout his time there, he was promoted to full professor and Dr. Lee’s lab produced more than 40 peer-reviewed papers, multiple patents and helped increase institutional funded research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His surgical training in head and neck surgery was completed at the University of Iowa, where he was eventually promoted to associate professor. Dr. Lee received his MD from the University of Minnesota and completed his undergraduate education at Stanford University.
NantKwest (NASDAQ:NK) is a pioneering, next generation, clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on harnessing the unique power of our immune system using natural killer (NK) cells to treat cancer, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases. NK cells are the body’s first line of defense due to the innate ability of NK cells to rapidly identify and destroy cells under stress, such as cancer or virally-infected cells.
NantKwest’s unique NK cell-based platform, with the capacity to grow active killer cells as a biological cancer therapy, has been designed to induce cell death against cancer or infected cells by three different modes of action: (1) Direct killing using activated NK cells (aNK) that release toxic granules directly into the cell through cell to cell contact, (2) Antibody-mediated killing using haNKs, which are NK cells engineered to incorporate a high affinity receptor that binds to an administered antibody, enhancing the cancer cell killing effect of that antibody, and (3) Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) activated killing using taNKs, which are NK cells engineered to incorporate CARs to target tumor-specific antigens found on the surface of cancer cells.
Our aNK, haNK® and taNK TM platform addresses certain limitations of T cell therapies including the reduction of risk of serious “cytokine storms” reported after T cell therapy. As an “off-the-shelf” therapy, NantKwest’s NK cells do not rely on a patient’s own often compromised immune system. In Phase 1 clinical trials in patients with late stage cancer, NantKwest’s NK cells have been successfully administered as an outpatient infusion therapy without any reported severe side effects, even at doses of 10 billion cells.
By leveraging an integrated and extensive genomics and transcriptomics discovery and development engine, together with a pipeline of multiple, clinical-stage, immuno-oncology programs that include a Phase 2 trial for a rare form of melanoma and the planned initiation of a clinical trial of NK cells targeted to breast cancer, we believe NantKwest is uniquely positioned to be the premier immunotherapy company and transform medicine by delivering living drugs in a bag and bringing novel NK cell-based therapies to routine clinical care. For more information please visit http://www.nantkwest.com and follow Dr. Soon-Shiong on Twitter @DrPatSoonShiong.