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Now is the time for NK cells!


CellProtect Nordic Pharmaceuticals AB rebrands to XNK Therapeutics AB

Today CellProtect Nordic Pharmaceutics AB launches the rebrand of the company as XNK Therapeutics AB.

The move is in part to separate the company name from the company product’s name, CellProtect, the NK-cell based drug candidate for treating Multiple myeloma. The rebranding also comes as the start of a bigger plan to bring the drug and the company into the next phase of commercial development, to capitalize on the company’s NK cell position and to generate the necessary data and financing for pivotal clinical trials and commercialization.

New CEO Johan Liwing joins Karin Mellstrom in driving this next step.

Johan, born in Köping, Sweden, comes to XNK Therapeutics following 13 years at Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) in various positions where he in his most recent position as global senior director was responsible for developing the use of observational data. He is excited about the Swedish NK cell position and says “Now is the time for NK cells!” With both Gilead and Janssen acquiring NK cell portfolios in the last months (see press releases below), the Big Pharma are catching on to the value of NK cell therapeutics. Johan says, “Stockholm is likely the best place in the world to work with NK cell product development. We have 40 years of research behind us and unbelievable passion and expertise in both academic and clinical settings”. Rolf Kiessling discovered NK cells at Karolinska Institutet in the mid-70s, and Klas Kärre and Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren basic mechanisms behind their ability to recognize tumour cells in the 80’s. The NextGenNK Vinnova funded Competence Centre continues this research and development to maintain Sweden’s world leading position.

Johan even believes that XNK Therapeutics has a unique position that will be difficult to beat. While other companies and technologies are focusing on gene modified NK cells, including NK-CARs, XNKs technology uses ex vivo expanded and activated autologous NK cells. This provides remarkable opportunity in the space of cancer treatment and prevention, in addition to the current applications. “Our NK cell product is remarkably safe so it is something that could realistically be used in both treatment and prevention of cancers”. Interestingly Johan’s training is based in not only in business administration but also in engineering and mathematics degrees. “Developing algorithms to determine which patients are likely to move out of pre-stages of cancers into cancers has huge potential to have a great impact to patients’ health, if these models are combined with safe treatment options, for example XNK’s technology.” The company now focusses on Multiple myeloma but the future is expected to see more indications treated first by intervention and eventually prevention.

In the autumn, a Phase II clinical trial following up on the first-in-human Phase I/II trial is planned to start. We look forward to see this Swedish born and bred ATMP grow and gain deserved attention in a landscape of a largely T cell dominated ATMP oncology space.

Want to get involved? ”We are looking for a talented scientist to develop future cell therapy products”