NEW YORK, N.Y. — October 17, 2023: Lupus Therapeutics, the clinical research affiliate of the Lupus Research Alliance, today announced a partnership with Nkarta, Inc. (Nasdaq: NKTX), a biopharmaceutical company developing the engineered natural killer (NK) cell therapy NKX019 for refractory lupus nephritis that has not responded to standard treatment. Lupus Therapeutics has provided advisory services and will support Nkarta in early development through select sites of the Lupus Clinical Investigators Network (LuCIN) comprised of top academic centers throughout North America.
NKX109, an allogenic CD19-directed CAR NK cell therapy, is currently being studied in oncology, but this is the first time the therapy will be evaluated in lupus nephritis, an inflammation of the kidney caused by lupus. NK cells are the body’s first line of defense against viral infections and cancers and have the innate ability to seek and destroy harmful cells. The Nkarta NK cell therapy platform leverages an off-the-shelf approach that potentially could be less burdensome for patients during treatment.
Lupus is a complex, heterogeneous autoimmune disease affecting millions worldwide with wide-ranging symptoms from debilitating fatigue to life-threatening organ damage. Lupus nephritis is one of the most severe complications of lupus affecting the kidneys. Lupus Therapeutics and the Lupus Research Alliance are committed to accelerating the development of potential treatments for a community in urgent need of more options.
“Lupus Therapeutics is pleased to collaborate with innovative biopharmaceutical companies such as Nkarta to accelerate the clinical evaluation of cell therapies as they advance through development. Cell therapies, a potential curative therapy like none other for lupus to date, are generating significant interest among top researchers within our Lupus Clinical Investigators Network and the lupus community,” said Stacie Bell, Ph.D., Lupus Therapeutics Executive Vice President.
“Our advisory services focus on engaging the experts in the scientific community, as well as those living with lupus, as key contributors to treatment development endeavors to increase the probability of success,” added Dr. Bell.
Research that provided much of the foundation for the development of CAR-T cell therapy, the first-generation cell therapy approach currently in clinical development, for lupus was funded in part by the Lupus Research Alliance (LRA) Lupus Innovation Award grant in 2014 to Marko Radic, Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Lupus Therapeutics, and Lupus Research Alliance as a whole, are leading the way to fundamental understanding, clinical development and evaluation and the education about cell therapy for the treatment of lupus.
Lupus is a chronic, complex autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. More than 90 percent of people with lupus are women; lupus most often strikes during the childbearing years of 15-45. Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American females and males are at greater risk than Caucasians for developing lupus. In lupus, the immune system, designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that can attack any part of the body including the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints. Lupus nephritis is among the most severe manifestations of SLE. Twenty to 65% of the estimated 220,000 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus in the U.S. will develop lupus nephritis.
About Lupus Therapeutics
Lupus Therapeutics, the clinical research affiliate of the Lupus Research Alliance, aims to accelerate the development of curative treatments for all individuals living with lupus. Lupus Therapeutics collaborates with academic institutions, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical partners through the unprecedented Lupus Clinical Investigators Network (LuCIN) to drive rapid and meaningful progress in the treatment of lupus patients. The organization elevates the patient voice, engages community stakeholders, and strives for representation of the diverse lupus community in the clinical research process with the most innovative and renowned experts throughout North America. Visit lupustherapeutics.org for more information.
About the Lupus Research Alliance
The Lupus Research Alliance is the largest non-governmental, non-profit funder of lupus research worldwide. The organization aims to transform treatment by funding the most innovative lupus research, fostering diverse scientific talent, and driving discovery toward better diagnostics, improved treatments and ultimately, a cure for lupus. Because the Lupus Research Alliance’s Board of Directors funds all administrative and fundraising costs, 100% of all donations goes to support lupus research programs. Visit lupusresearch.org for more information.