GC Lab Cell and U.S. unit Artiva enter NK cell therapy deal with Merck

2021.01.29 10:27:33 | 2021.03.08 16:43:45

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South Korea’s GC Lab Cell and its U.S affiliate Artiva Biotherapeutics, Inc., have entered an exclusive collaboration and license deal with Merck, known as MSD outside North America, to develop two and one optional novel chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-NK cell therapies targeting solid tumor-associated antigens.

Under the terms of the agreement, Artiva will receive a $30 million upfront payment for the first two programs and an additional $15 million payment if Merck exercises its option for a third program. Artiva is also eligible to receive future development and commercial milestones of up to $612 million per program and royalties payable by Merck on worldwide sales of any product derived from the collaboration. Merck agreed to provide research funding to Artiva for each of the programs under the collaboration.

GC Lab Cell separately reported in Seoul its upfront share of $15 million and up to $322.35 million per program on future development and commercial milestone.

GC Lab Cell shares jumped 6.83 percent to close Friday at 128,200 won ($114.6).

The Merck CAR-NK collaboration programs will leverage Artiva’s novel NK-specific CAR costimulatory structures and highly scaled, proprietary NK cell manufacturing platform. Artiva’s manufacturing platform supports large-scale production and cryopreservation of off-the-shelf allogeneic NK cell therapies and proprietary CAR-NK and NK-specific gene-editing technologies to augment therapeutic activity, according to Artiva’s statement.

Artiva headquartered in San Diego was set up by GC Holdings and GC Lab Cell devoted to NK cell platform incorporating cell expansion, activation, and engineering technology developed GC LabCell. Shares of GC Holdings were also rose 7.8 percent to 48,350 won.

By Minu Kim

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