Celularity and Oncternal Therapeutics to Research Placental-Derived Cellular Therapies

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Celularity and Oncternal’s collaboration will focus on therapeutics targeting Orphan Receptor 1, which is linked to aggression and survival in solid tumor cells.

Two clinical-stage biotechnology companies, Celularity and Oncternal Therapeutics, announced on Sept. 20, 2021, that they would begin a research collaboration to evaluate placental-derived cellular therapies targeting receptor-tyrosine kinase-like Orphan Receptor 1 (ROR1). ROR1 is highly expressed in many solid tumors and hematological malignancies, conferring both an aggressive phenotype and survival advantage to tumor cells.

In the collaboration, Celularity will explore the use of Oncternal’s cirmtuzumab, a ROR1-targeted monoclonal antibody, in combination with Celularity’s natural killer cells, CYNK-101. They will also explore ROR1-targeted chimeric antigen receptor gene modification in both the natural killer cell and CyCART T cell platforms.

Cirmtuzumab binding to ROR1 (for both leukemia and lymphoma cells) decreases tumor cell proliferation and survival by blocking Wnt5a-induced activation, according to a Celularity press release. CYNK-101 is a placental-derived allogeneic cell therapy that has been engineered to synergize with therapeutic antibodies such as cirmtuzumab.

“We believe that targeted cellular therapies have the potential to extend the clinical benefit of our research and improve the standard of care for patients,” said James Breitmeyer, founder, president, and CEO of Oncternal, in a press release. “However, the current limitations in efficacy, safety, and availability of cellular therapies hinders their broader use. Celularity’s approach, leveraging the ability of placental-derived cells to differentiate and expand, has the potential to overcome these obstacles and could potentially offer more potent, tolerable, and accessible cellular medicines and, in combination with our ROR1 targeting antibodies, address the significant unmet needs of patients.”


“We are thrilled to enter this partnership with Oncternal to forge new therapeutic strategies for both solid tumors and hematological malignancies using our allogeneic placental-derived cell therapy product candidates with their innate stemness,” said Robert J. Hariri, founder, chairperson, and CEO of Celularity, in a press release. “Oncternal’s work has established ROR1 as an exciting target that could be utilized for the development of new and novel cellular medicines, and there is an immense potential for synergy combining two novel approaches to create exciting new pipeline candidates targeting a wide range of cancers.”

Source: Celularity