The local research and manufacturing facility will scale the oncology company’s ability to develop and commercialize its pipeline of primary allogeneic NK cell therapies to treat cancer.
Artiva has partnered with Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. to create a custom-built Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) manufacturing center located at 5505 Morehouse Drive.
“We are honored that Artiva approached us to partner on the build-out of this critical new research and manufacturing center that will support the company in its mission to develop and deliver safe, effective and versatile cancer therapies,” said Daniel Ryan, co-chief investment officer and San Diego regional market director of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc.
Scaling NK Cell Therapies
Although the life science company was founded in 2019, it is backed by industry veterans and GC LabCell, which has been manufacturing NK cells for about a decade.
Artiva’s president and CEO Fred Aslan, M.D. has 20 years of experience in the life science industry and he said that NK cell therapies have gotten more attention as recent research data have backed this promising cell therapy.
NK cells are part of the body’s innate immune system and in the context of therapeutic applications, they offer a versatile and precision treatment option for cancer patients. Dr. Aslan explained that what sets them apart from their peers in this space is Artiva’s “manufacturing first approach.”
“What this means is that, unlike other companies who are very quick to advance a product into the clinic but usually they’re advancing, you know, fresh NK cells that are not cryopreserved or it’s done in an academic setting,” Dr. Aslan said. “We were able to start with a very solid manufacturing process in place.”
The company’s current pipeline of NK cell-based therapies have the capacity to tackle hematologic malignancies or solid tumors for cancers such as B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Its candidate AB-101 is in Phase 1/2 trials with two additional Targeted CAR-NK candidates approaching clinical trials.
Growing in San Diego
Peter Flynn, Ph.D. Artiva’s COO explained that the company’s new facility will build on their current operation in Korea and it will support their expanded R&D and evolving pipeline of optimized NK and CAR-NK cell therapies for the treatment of cancer.
In addition to the new San Diego facility, the company will continue its work with research and GMP manufacturing at its partner GC LabCell’s state-of-the-art 300,000-square-foot Cell Center, which comprises research labs, process development labs, and a 50,000-square-foot GMP cell therapy manufacturing facility in the Republic of Korea.
“We just need to make sure that our manufacturing controls and systems keep pace with our clinical developments, and therefore, we’re using this center to really hone that process, to the point that it could be a commercial manufacturing process,” Flynn said. “So that’s why the new center is so important to us and is an add on to the capacity that we already have in Korea.”
Artiva currently has a little over 30 employees and the new facility will have a capacity to hold 160 people, Flynn said.
Over the past year, the company has grown significantly with its most recent Series B funding round, bringing the total funding to date to over $200 million, Aslan said. This year, the company also inked a deal with pharmaceutical giant Merck to develop up to three CAR-NK cell therapies targeting solid tumor-associated antigens.
CEO: Dr. Fred Aslan
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
BUSINESS: Clinical-stage biotech company developing off-the-shelf NK cell therapies
EMPLOYEES: 30+ employees
NOTABLE: In January, Artiva announced an exclusive worldwide collaboration and license agreement with Merck to develop up to three CAR-NK cell therapies.