Nkarta signs SPL to accelerate its NK cell therapies

Lighthouse | 4 November 2021

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  • Nkarta Therapeutics has entered into a strategic platform licence (SPL) agreement to gain clinical and commercial rights to use MaxCyte’s Flow Electroporation technology and the ExPERT platform. This non-exclusive licence is the fifteenth such deal and, in common with the prior licences, the financial terms are not disclosed. MaxCyte will receive platform licensing fees and programme-related milestone payments.
  • Nkarta’s cell therapy approach is based on Natural Killer (NK) cells, which, unlike T-cell therapies (CAR-Ts), have an inherent ability to target tumour cells without the need for tailored genetic modification. Nkarta’s CAR-NK platform can target many solid tumour types, allows allogeneic manufacturing (it is available off-the-shelf), has a potent and sustained cytotoxic effect, and offers the prospect of fewer side-effects.
  • Nkarta will use MaxCyte’s transfection technology platforms to create and produce the genetically relevant (mbIL15 and CAR) NKs in a robust and consistent manner. Its lead asset, NKX101 (NKG2D ligand), is in Phase I for relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) or high-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), with initial data expected in H122. NKX019 (CD19+) recently began a Phase I in advanced B-cell malignancies. Two earlier-stage programmes (one for CD70+ tumours, the other undisclosed) are partnered with CRISPR Therapeutics.
  • This agreement with Nkarta is MaxCyte’s fifteenth SPL deal and the fourth secured in 2021 so far. MaxCyte is increasingly acknowledged as an industry leader in non-viral cell delivery and engineering. The ExPERT flow electroporation platform is based on over 20 years of development, which has resulted in its ability to provide high transfection rates, consistent reproducibility, and high versatility in introducing a wide range of molecules into cells.

Trinity Delta view: MaxCyte’s proven expertise is increasingly at the heart of the new generation of gene-edited and cell therapies, which effectively makes MaxCyte a unique and diversified play on the whole cell engineering field, providing broad exposure across cell types, technologies, indications, and approaches. Its growing and diverse portfolio of SPLs covers a variety of modalities with many of the leading and emerging players in the development of cell and gene therapies, and management have indicated that its pipeline of SPL opportunities is the strongest and most diverse to date. Pipeline visibility at MaxCyte’s SPL partners is improving and, in our view, will be a major determinant of its share price progression. SPL-derived revenues should come to the fore in the medium term as progress across its SPL stable contributes to build a meaningful pre-commercial milestone stack. We intend to revisit our forecasts and valuation following Q321 results on November 10.


4 November 2021

Market Cap£787.4m
Primary exchangeAIM London
Company Code
Corporate clientYes

Company description

MaxCyte uses its patented flow electroporation platform to transfect a wide array of cells. Revenues arise from sale and lease of equipment, disposables and licence fees; with an impressive client list. Key programmes with several clients are gaining greater visibility and approaching material value-inflections points. These will trigger a stream of milestone fees.


Lala Gregorek
+44 (0) 20 3637 5043

Franc Gregori
+44 (0) 20 3637 5041


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