A new joint project will develop precision medicines for blood cancers and solid tumors by utilizing immunotherapies targeting natural killer (NK) cells.

In collaboration between Yissum, the technology-transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, biopharmaceutical company Cytovia Therapeutics will sponsor a research program to develop multi-specific antibodies targeting both NK cells and the tumor antigen.

The research will be led by Hebrew University Prof. Ofer Mandelboim.

Natural killer cells are an important part of the body’s immuno-surveillance system, which can recognize and kill cancerous cells and viruses. NK treatments offer the potential for an effective, safer treatment option compared to most current cancer immunotherapies, which target T-cells in an efficient yet sometimes toxic approach.

Mandelboim’s team has recently demonstrated that the NK activating receptor, NKp46, is a major engager of NK cells including infiltrating cells in solid tumors.

“Preclinical studies have demonstrated that these multifunctional engagers have the potential for better tumor control without hurting the healthy cells.  For patients and doctors alike, this precision medicine could become the optimal way to treat cancer,” Mandelboim explained.

“We are delighted to collaborate with Prof. Mandelboim, one of the foremost experts on natural killer cells, a first line of defense against cancer and viral infections. The NKp46 antibodies developed at the Hebrew University will be incorporated in our NK engager platform supporting the development of multiple novel therapeutic candidates for both hematological and solid tumors,” said Cytovia CEO Daniel Teper.