City of Hope enters licensing agreements with CytoImmune Therapeutics Inc. to develop portfolio of chimeric antigen receptor-natural killer therapies

City of Hope
Zen Vuong
William Rosellini
License and development agreements will advance several immunotherapies
Duarte and Monrovia, Calif. – City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases, and CytoImmune Therapeutics Inc., (“CytoImmune”) a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on commercializing novel cancer immunotherapy products, announced that they have entered into worldwide exclusive license agreements.
The agreements include licenses to several patent applications related to methods to generate large numbers of fully functional natural killer (NK) cells derived from umbilical cord blood and compositions of chimeric receptors (CAR) for targeting NK cells to tumors. They include a prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA) CAR to treat pancreatic, gastric, bladder, prostate and some lung cancers, a programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1)+ NK cell for use in treating lung cancer, and fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) CAR NK cell therapy for use in treating acute myeloid leukemia.
The licensed technologies are based on discoveries by CytoImmune co-founders Jianhua Yu, Ph.D., professor, City of Hope Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, and Michael A. Caligiuri, M.D., president, City of Hope National Medical Center, who together have over 55 years of experience in NK cell biology and more than 500 original, peer-reviewed publications on NK cells and cancer.
“As an independent institution dedicated to advancing the fight against cancer, City of Hope is committed to finding innovative discoveries and treatments, and NK cell therapies offer great hope for patients,” said Robert Stone, president and CEO of City of Hope and the Helen and Morgan Chu Chief Executive Officer Distinguished Chair. “We are proud of Dr. Caliguiri and Dr. Yu’s discoveries and are pleased to enter into these agreements with CytoImmune.”
CAR NK therapies are designed to harness the power of NK cells, from healthy donors, that are in turn “engineered” to aggressively treat patients with cancer while minimizing the side effects of treatment. City of Hope, a recognized leader in CAR T cell therapies for solid and blood cancers, has treated more than 600 patients since its CAR T research started in the late 1990s. The institution continues to have one of the most comprehensive CAR T cell GMP facilities and CAR T cell clinical research programs in the world with nearly 50 CAR T cell trials currently taking place at City of Hope or about to open.
“CytoImmune has expanded our productive partnership with City of Hope, a leader in immunotherapy research, and we have solidified our position as leaders in NK cell technology,” said Rich Santulli, chairman and CEO of CytoImmune. “Drs. Caligiuri and Yu have worked together for nearly 20 years and have made important and fundamental discoveries in NK cell science. With these agreements, we have gained access to technologies that will generate an abundant supply of our proprietary engineered and enhanced NK cells that can selectively kill both blood and solid tumor cells. We are hopeful that by furthering this research we will ultimately benefit patients who need new treatment options.”
“As a scientific founder of CytoImmune, I am pleased to see the company expand its collaboration with City of Hope. NK cell therapy holds great promise for treating both blood and solid tumor cancers. We are excited to see this promising therapy move forward with the goal of helping even more patients battling cancer,” said Caligiuri, the Deana and Steve Campbell Physician-in-Chief Distinguished Chair.
Yu and Caligiuri also have many patents between them for many firsts in human NK cell development, survival, activation, in vivo modulation and preclinical models of human NK CAR therapy for cancer.  Over 1,000 cancer patients have been treated on protocols designed or co-designed by Caligiuri using cytokine therapies to modulate NK cells.
CytoImmune Therapeutics is translating into the clinic a CAR NK cell platform targeting AML, B cell malignancies and multiple myeloma, as well as pancreatic, gastric, bladder, prostate and lung cancer. Investigational new drug filings are in process or planned for the use of CAR NK cells in these liquid and solid tumors in 2021.
About CytoImmune Therapeutics Inc.
CytoImmune Therapeutics was founded on the natural killer cell expansion and transduction technology pioneered by Yu and Caligiuri. The company is focused on expanding its manufacturing technologies to enable numerous clinical studies in a variety of different cancers. 
About City of Hope
City of Hope is an independent biomedical research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a leader in bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy such as CAR T cell therapy. City of Hope’s translational research and personalized treatment protocols advance care throughout the world. Human synthetic insulin, monoclonal antibodies, and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs are based on technology developed at the institution. Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) became a part of City of Hope in 2016. AccessHopeTM, a wholly owned subsidiary, was launched in 2019, dedicated to serving employers and their health care partners by providing access to City of Hope’s exceptional cancer expertise. A National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, City of Hope is ranked among the nation’s “Best Hospitals” in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Its main campus is located near Los Angeles, with additional locations throughout Southern California and in Arizona. For more information about City of Hope, follow us on FacebookTwitterYouTube or Instagram.