NantKwest (NASDAQ: NK) has announced that Minnesota-based company Be The Match BioTherapies that will provide donor-derived cellular “material” for a phase 1b clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of BM-AlloMSC, NantKwest’s mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).
ARDS, a life-threatening condition characteristic of severe cases of COVID-19, involves aberrant immune cell activation and disruptive inflammation in the lungs. The proposed value of BM-AlloMSC for treating COVID-19 is based on the anti-inflammatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells.
According to NantKwest, “Similar work in Europe with allogeneic MSC products in patients with COVID-19 and ARDS has demonstrated safety and efficacy in reducing inflammatory processes.”
Chairman and CEO of NantKwest Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, stated, “There is an immediate need for COVID-19 therapies across all stages of the disease, including for patients with ARDS, which is one of the most critical conditions caused by COVID-19. Thanks to the quality source material provided by Be The Match BioTherapies, we are prepared to rapidly scale manufacturing of this much-needed therapy, potentially saving numerous patients’ lives.”
The allogeneic stem cell product, derived from the bone marrow of human donors, will be sourced from Be The Match’s BioBank, which is associated with the National Marrow Donor Program®/Be The Match®.
While NantKwest has received authorization from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the investigational new drug (IND) application associated with BM-AlloMSC, the phase 1b trial involving cellular material from Be The Match BioTherapies has not yet been initiated. The trial will evaluate the utility of BM-AlloMSC for treating humans with severe cases of COVID-19.
Senior Vice President of Sales and New Business Development at Be The Match BioTherapies Chris McClain stated, “Through our team’s unparalleled ability to identify, source and deliver high-quality donor material we have the opportunity to support the advancement of a cell therapy with potential to change the world. We are proud to partner with NantKwest to support our mission to save lives through cellular therapy, and continue to make a difference for critically ill patients around the globe.”
NantKwest is also developing a natural killer cell-based cancer immunotherapy that has shown promise for the treatment of pancreatic cancer in a phase 1 clinical trial. Phase 2 trials of the therapy are currently being planned.