Immuno-Oncology Resource Center

Immuno-Oncology Resource Center

Issue: February 2020
January 17, 2020
2 min read

Cytovia Partners with UCSF, New York Stem Cell Foundation to Develop Novel CAR-NK Cell Therapies

Issue: February 2020
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Justin Eyquem, PhD
Justin Eyquem

Cytovia Therapeutics announced research partnerships with both The New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute and University of California, San Francisco, for the development of induced pluripotent stem cell-derived chimeric antigen receptor-natural killer cell therapies for cancer.

Cytovia said both partnerships are 3-year agreements in which the NYSCF will develop the therapies using its proprietary Global Stem Cell Array platform and optimize them for the gene editing techniques being developed by a team of researchers at UCSF.

The team at UCSF will be under the direction of Justin Eyquem, PhD, principal investigator in the department of microbiology and immunology and fellow at Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

Daniel Teper, PharmD
Daniel Teper

These two partnerships form the foundation of the research Cytovia hopes to conduct over the coming years, according to Daniel Teper, PharmD, the firm’s CEO.

“We have been dedicated to finding the right research and development partners,” Tepper told Healio. “There are only a handful of teams worldwide that have the appropriate level of expertise and experience — Eyquem’s lab at UCSF is one of the very best for gene editing for CAR T and NK cells and the NYSCF has a lot of experience with developing stem cells into different lines of cells, including immune cells.”

Eyquem’s lab at UCSF will develop new gene editing techniques to improve the performance and safety of CARs and CAR-NK cells. Cytovia will retain the option to license patentable inventions that result from the research collaboration.

“We will be working on the CAR architecture, and improving and tailoring the CAR to improve NK cell activation and performance” Eyquem told Healio.

“The NK platform has the advantage in that is a much cheaper than autologous T-cell products,” he added.

The platform will have specific gene edits intended to improve antitumor activity while limiting potential treatment-related toxicities.

Justin Eyquem, PhD
Elizabeth Schwarzbach

“Although our agreement is with Cytovia Therapeutics, the three groups will work very closely,” Elizabeth Schwarzbach, PhD, chief business officer at New York Stem Cell Foundation, told Healio. “NYSCF is by nature a very collaborative organization looking to lift all boats and advance therapeutics to patients, and that’s the reason for our work and the partnership with Cytovia.”

Research from this agreement is ongoing and in the preclinical stage, but the 3-year nature of the agreement means that Cytovia expects to have treatment candidates into clinical testing by late 2021 or early 2022. Preliminary research data are expected by the end of this year.


Tepper said his company will target both hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. He cited multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and solid tumors as having demonstrated therapeutic potential for CAR-NK treatments.

“There is still a need for improved, targeted therapies for patients across cancer indications,” Schwarzbach told Healio.

NYCSF is interested in potential treatments for solid tumors — especially those with few available options, such as ovarian and endometrial cancer.

“These innovative CAR-NK therapies will be one tool physicians will have to use for patients across cancer indications,” Schwarzbach said.

“Current CAR technology faces problems in terms of relapsed disease in myeloma, high toxicities that must be carefully monitored in those who respond to therapy, and a lack of clinical activity in solid tumors, so from a clinical perspective there is still a lot of work to do,” Eyquem said. “We hope that this new platform can address some of these issues.” – by Drew Amorosi

For more information:

Justin Eyquem, PhD, can be reached at

Elizabeth Schwarzbach, PhD, can be reached at The New York Stem Cell Foundation, 619 W. 54th St., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10019; email:

Daniel Teper, PharmD, can be reached at

Disclosures: Eyquem reports a consultant role with Cytovia Therapeutics. Tepper is the founder and CEO of Cytovia Therapeutics. Schwarzbach reports no relevant financial disclosures.