NantKwest Reports Positive Interim Data In Pancreatic Cancer Trials, Stock Soars

Clinical-stage immunotherapy company Nantkwest Inc NK reports positive interim data on survival rates in the Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer QUILT 88 trial on Wednesday.

What Happened: Nantkwest said that early interim results of its PD-L1 t-haNK protocols showing median survival rates more than doubled that of the historical rate in patients with advanced metastatic pancreatic cancer for which no other FDA-approved treatment exists.

The data validates the theory that survival rates could be improved without high-dose chemotherapy by orchestrating natural killer and T-cell therapy. 

The trials were based on the original Cancer Moonshot hypothesis, a collaborative trial involving the combination of cell therapy and immunotherapeutics from multiple biotech and pharmaceutical companies, including Nantkwest, ImmunityBioBristol-Myers Squibb Co BMY-owned Celgene, and Pfizer Inc. PFE.

Interim Study Results: Moonshot QUILT trials of haNK combined with PD-L1 inhibitor avelumab were completed in 2019, showed that the median overall survival rate more than doubled in the 12-patient study compared to historical controls. Details here.

Four out of five patients who had not yet reached median survival time (three months) are alive 8-16 months since beginning treatment on these expanded protocols when replacing haNK and PD-L1 inhibitor avelumab with PD-L1 t-haNK.

A single-arm Phase 2 QUILT 88 study was initiated in October 2020, the primary endpoint for which is overall survival, and 15 out of 18 (83%) of patients enrolled with second-line or greater pancreatic cancer remain alive to date.

A randomized Phase 2 QUILT 88 study for first- and second-line metastatic pancreatic cancer is actively enrolling at three sites.

Why It Matters: "These observations confirmed the promise of our hypothesis that activating the patient's own immune system with low-dose chemo immunomodulation therapy could improve outcomes," said Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., Chairman, and CEO of ImmunityBio.

The data is still early but warrants further confirmation of doubling the survival rate through QUILT 88, Soon-Shiong added.

In December 2020, Nantkwest had a reverse-merger deal with privately-held ImmunityBio. The combined company is expected to close the transaction by the first quarter of 2021 and list under the ticker symbol 'IBRX' on Nasdaq.

Price Action: NK shares are trading higher by 19.1% at $17.60 in the pre-market session on the last check Thursday.

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