Jan 28

Artiva Biotherapeutics Announces Exclusive Worldwide Collaboration and License Agreement with Merck to Develop Candidate CAR-NK Cell Therapies

  • Collaboration utilizes Artiva’s proprietary off-the-shelf allogeneic NK cell and CAR technology platforms to develop up to three CAR-NK cell therapies targeting solid tumor-associated antigens
  • Artiva to receive $30 million upfront payment and up to $612 million per program in potential future development and commercial milestones, and royalties on any future worldwide product sales
  • Artiva to develop novel CAR-NK cell therapy candidates and transfer to Merck for clinical development and commercialization

SAN DIEGO, January 28, 2021Artiva Biotherapeutics, Inc., an oncology company focused on developing and commercializing primary allogeneic natural killer (NK) cell therapies to treat cancer, announced today that it has entered into an exclusive worldwide collaboration and license agreement with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, to develop novel chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-NK cell therapies targeting solid tumor-associated antigens. The collaboration will leverage Artiva’s off-the-shelf allogeneic NK cell manufacturing platform, along with its proprietary CAR-NK technology. The collaboration initially includes two CAR-NK programs with an option for a third, none of which are in Artiva’s current or planned pipeline. The agreement provides that Artiva will develop the CAR-NK programs through the first GMP manufacturing campaign and IND preparation, followed by transfer to Merck for clinical and commercial development.

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 are 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.

“Our NK platform has been developed to be truly off-the-shelf and we believe it will be further validated by this exclusive collaboration with Merck, as we work together to bring cell therapies to all patients who may benefit,” said Dr. Peter Flynn, COO of Artiva. “This collaboration will combine Merck’s leading immuno-oncology expertise and capabilities with our highly scaled and optimized CAR-NK platform,” added Dr. Fred Aslan, CEO of Artiva.

“At Merck, we continue to explore new ways to transform the most innovative science into better therapies for patients who need them most,” said Dr. Nick Haining, Vice President, Head of Discovery Oncology and Immunology, Merck Research Laboratories. “We look forward to working with the team at Artiva with the hope of developing new NK cell-based treatments for cancer.”

Artiva’s targeted NK cell therapies leverage the innate anti-tumor biology and safety features of NK cells. The therapies are optimized for enhanced efficacy through CARs, therapeutic antibody combination therapy, and genetic engineering. 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.

About Artiva Biotherapeutics: Scaling NK Cell Therapy for Cancer

Artiva’s mission is to deliver to cancer patients highly effective cellular immunotherapies that are safe and immediately accessible. Artiva’s internal CAR-NK programs include AB-201, a novel HER2-specific CAR-NK cell therapy for the treatment of HER2+ solid tumors, and AB-202, a CD19-specific CAR-NK cell therapy for the treatment of B-cell malignancies, which is being developed under Artiva’s master license and option agreement with GC LabCell Corporation, with plans to enter clinical trials in 2022. Artiva’s pipeline also includes AB-101, a universal NK cell therapy for use in combination with monoclonal antibodies or innate-cell engagers. The company is currently advancing a clinical trial of AB-101 in combination with rituximab for the treatment of relapsed or refractory B-cell lymphomas. Artiva’s NK cell platform incorporates cell expansion, activation, and engineering technology developed by the company’s corporate partner, GC LabCell, a member of the GC family of companies, one of the Republic of Korea’s leading biopharmaceutical groups. Artiva is headquartered in San Diego.

Media Contact: Jessica Yingling, Ph.D., Little Dog Communications, jessica@litldog.com, +1.858.344.8091

Recent Posts

Artiva Biotherapeutics Receives FDA Fast Track Designation for AlloNK® in Lupus Nephritis

SAN DIEGO, February 22, 2024 — Artiva Biotherapeutics, Inc., a clinical stage company whose mission is to deliver highly effective, off-the-shelf, allogeneic natural killer (NK) cell-based therapies, announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track designation to Artiva’s lead program AlloNK® (also known as AB-101) for the treatment of...

Artiva Named a PM360 2023 Innovative Startup

Artiva was recognized in the 2023 PM360 Innovations Issue for advancing the first allogeneic NK cell therapy to clinical trials for lupus nephritis.  Artiva’s mission is to develop effective, safe and accessible cell therapies for patients with devastating autoimmune diseases and cancers. Our large-scale manufacturing process is capable of producing thousands of doses of cryopreserved,...

Artiva Biotherapeutics Receives Immunology Innovation of the Year in the 2023 BioTech Breakthrough Awards Program

Artiva recognized for advancing AlloNK®, the first allogeneic, off-the-shelf NK cell therapy with an IND allowance for autoimmune disease AlloNK in combination with rituximab aims to be a safe and effective option for patients with lupus nephritis and has scalable potential for future applications in other autoimmune diseases San Diego, Calif., November 8, 2023 –...