San Diego-based Sorrento Therapeutics Inc. and NantBioScience Inc. announced Thursday that it has established a joint venture to develop "first-in-class" small molecules against targets that have eluded the pharmaceutical industry to date.

These small molecules may address important drivers of cancer growth including cancer stem cells, according to a recent news release.‎

Sorrento will contribute key small molecule programs to the joint venture, which will be 60 percent owned by NantBioScience and 40 percent owned by Sorrento, and funded accordingly.

This joint venture follows on a previously announced acquisition by NantPharma of the rights to the cancer treatment Cynviloq, now renamed Nant-paclitaxel, as well as the formation of NantiBody, a joint venture focused on immunotherapeutics. Both entities are affiliated with billionaire entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong's ecosystem of companies at NantWorks.

"Sorrento's mission is to expeditiously and efficiently bring innovative therapies to cancer patients in need," said Henry Ji, president and CEO of Sorrento. "This partnership, focused on the development of our innovative small molecules, will allow us to realize Sorrento's vision, align our resources on our immuno-oncology and cell therapy assets, and put Sorrento at the forefront of cancer therapy."

The company entered into another agreement on Friday.

Globavir Biosciences Inc., a biotech developing small molecule drugs to treat cancer and infectious diseases, announced that it was partnering with Sorrento Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SRNE) to exclusively license its novel oncology compound, BC001, to Sorrento.