EMERCell SAS, a Montpellier, France, a company that has developed a platform technology to produce off-the-shelf natural killer (NK) cells, received a strategic investment from Onward Therapeutics.
The amount of the deal was not disclosed.
The equity investment, provided in three instalments, allows Onward to become the majority shareholder. Dr. Alain Herrera, Chief Medical Officer of Onward, has been elected Chairperson of the Board of EMERCell.
In the era of cancer immunotherapy, NK cells are one of the immune cells that can be harnessed, along with antibodies or genetic modifications to kill tumor cells. One major advantage of EMERCell’s technology is its versatility in offering allogeneic, instead of autologous treatment by CAR-T or CAR-NK cell therapy. Onward will assist EMERCell to scale up their patented process of activation and amplification of allogeneic NK cells and to conduct clinical investigations.
“Through its capital investment in EMERCell, Onward will have access to a proprietary technology to produce highly activated NK cells. Based on our ‘Buy and Build’ business model, this deal enables Onward to leap forward in developing a foothold in the field of immuno-oncology, and it may synergize with the bispecific antibody project that we recently licensed from Biomunex.” said Dr. C. Grace Yeh, Chairman and CEO of Onward. “We envision a great prospect in exploiting this off-the-shelf NK cell therapy and proprietary antibodies as two pillars to build our next generation of product portfolio.”
Created in February 2013 by Dr. Patrick Henno, CEO, EMERCell is advancing NK-001, which is intended for the treatment of CD20-positive lymphomas in the patients who are refractory to conventional therapies. It is a patented process for pre-activating and amplifying the effects of allogeneic NK (Natural Killer) cells. The company, which collaborates with numerous industrial and academic partners, has received the support of the Occitanie Region (ADI) and Bpifrance and has obtained a FUI (financing).
A member of Eurobiomed, EMERCell is located at the IRMB (Institute of Regenerative Medicine and Biotherapies) at the Saint-Eloi University Hospital Center, Montpellier, France.