Oncternal Therapeutics and Karolinska Institutet Establish Collaboration for Research and Development of ROR1-targeting CAR-T and CAR-NK Cell Therapies

SAN DIEGO, CA, USA and STOCKHOLM, Sweden I January 07, 2021 I Oncternal Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ONCT), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel oncology therapies, today announced that it established a research and development collaboration with world-renowned Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, to advance novel ROR1-targeting cell therapies focused on CAR-T cells and CAR-NK (Natural Killer) cells from the laboratory into the clinic.

As part of the collaboration, IND-supporting preclinical studies will be performed in the Cell and Gene Therapy Group led by Evren Alici, M.D. Ph.D., within the NextGenNK Center, which is a Competence Center for the development of next-generation NK cell-based cancer immunotherapies. The Center is coordinated by Karolinska Institutet and collaborates with the Karolinska University Hospital as well as prominent national and international industrial partners. The Center was launched in 2020, and is jointly funded by Sweden’s innovation agency Vinnova, Karolinska Institutet, and the industrial partners.

“Given that NK cells were discovered at Karolinska Institutet, we are excited to work together with industry partners to translate scientific advances into next-generation cell therapies that will benefit cancer patients,” said Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren, M.D. Ph.D., Director of the NextGenNK competence center. “We look forward to collaborating with the outstanding team at Oncternal to develop cutting-edge T and NK cell therapies targeting ROR1, which is a promising target in many oncology indications. It could be ideally suited for cell therapy.”

“We are honored to work together with the world-leading academic team at Karolinska Institutet to accelerate the development of our ROR1-targeting CAR-T cell immunotherapy program,” said James Breitmeyer, M.D., Ph.D., Oncternal’s President and CEO. “ROR1 has emerged as an important and underexplored target for cancer therapy, and we believe that ROR1-targeting CAR-T and CAR-NK therapies hold significant promise for patients with both hematologic cancers and solid tumors. We believe that utilizing the ROR1 binding domain of our clinical-stage antibody cirmtuzumab as a component of the CAR has the potential to give us a safety and efficacy advantage.”

About Oncternal Therapeutics
Oncternal Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel oncology therapies for the treatment of cancers with critical unmet medical need. Oncternal focuses drug development on promising yet untapped biological pathways implicated in cancer generation or progression. The clinical pipeline includes cirmtuzumab, an investigational monoclonal antibody designed to inhibit the ROR1 (Receptor-tyrosine kinase-like Orphan Receptor 1) pathway, a type I tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor, that is being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in combination with ibrutinib for the treatment of patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and in an investigator-sponsored, Phase 1b clinical trial in combination with paclitaxel for the treatment of women with HER2-negative metastatic or locally advanced, unresectable breast cancer. The clinical pipeline also includes TK216, an investigational targeted small-molecule inhibitor of the ETS family of oncoproteins, that is being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial for patients with Ewing sarcoma alone and in combination with vincristine chemotherapy. In addition, Oncternal has a program utilizing the cirmtuzumab antibody backbone to develop a CAR-T therapy that targets ROR1, which is currently in preclinical development as a potential treatment for hematologic cancers and solid tumors. More information is available at www.oncternal.com.

About Karolinska Institutet
Karolinska Institutetis one of the world’s leading medical universities. Its vision is to advance knowledge about life and strive towards better health for all. Karolinska Institutet accounts for the single largest share of all academic medical research conducted in Sweden and offers the country’s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet selects the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine.

SOURCE: Oncternal Therapeutics

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