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NantKwest Shares Jump More than 50% Following JP Morgan Healthcare Conference Presentation

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Shares of NantKwest Inc. spiked as much as 85% higher in mid-morning trading setting a new 52-week high price after the company reported a series of positive results at the 38th J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. The firm reported that complete responses were noted in as many as six different multiple tumor types when "natural killer" cells and T cells are activated simultaneously.

In a presentation to the 2020 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., chairman and CEO of NantKwest Inc. ((NK:NASDAQ), a clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on harnessing the power of the innate immune system by using the natural killer cell to treat cancer, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases, and ImmunityBio Inc. presented an update of the Cancer Breakthrough 2020 Initiative and findings on the preliminary safety and early signals of efficacy in Phase 1 and 2 trials for multiple tumor types.

The firm advised in the presentation that "complete Responses were noted in multiple tumor types including Pancreatic, Triple Negative Breast, Head and Neck, Merkel Cell, and Bladder cancers and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma when Natural Killer cells and T cells are activated simultaneously."

Dr. Soon-Shiong commented, "We hypothesized that a common treatment protocol that harnesses both the natural-killer cell and T cells could be effective in inducing immunogenic cell death leading to durable responses across multiple tumor types. We are grateful for the support of the FDA and over 200 investigators in 41 states who have been involved in testing this hypothesis in cancer patients with advanced disease...The number of patients who experienced a complete remission in this advanced setting is encouraging and further validates our premise that high-dose chemo is harmful and that a paradigm change of exposing the tumor to a carefully orchestrated 'triple triangle offense' of NK cell, Dendritic cell and T-cell activation, is a safe cellular and immunotherapy regimen and can be administered in the outpatient setting with promising activity across multiple tumor types. Testing this hypothesis has been the basis of the QUILT trials since 2017."

Dr. Soon-Shiong previously announced the initiative at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in 2016 and advised that the initiative has made significant progress since then based on research and clinical trials. Some of the specific highlights and achievements included for the initiative are that from 2017 to 2019 it has reportedly obtained 39 Investigational New Drugs authorizations from the FDA to undertake Phase 1 and 2 trials across multiple tumor types to assess safety and efficacy with 10 first-in-human immunotherapy agents as single agents and in novel combinations.

The report explained that "the Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 program is one of the most comprehensive cancer initiatives launched to date which seeks to accelerate the potential of combination immunotherapy as the next generation standard of care in cancer patients by inducing immunogenic cell death and thereby avoiding the adverse effects of high dose chemotherapy."

NantKwest is headquartered in Culver City, Calif., and stated that "it is an innovative, clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on harnessing the power of the innate immune system to treat cancer and virally induced infectious diseases," and further claimed that it is the "leading producer of clinical dose forms of off-the-shelf Natural Killer (NK) cell therapies." The company indicated that the safety of its optimized, activated NK cells along with their activity against a broad range of cancers, have been tested in Phase I clinical trials in Canada and Europe, and in multiple U.S.-based Phase I and II clinical trials.

The report indicated that ImmunityBio is a privately held immunotherapy company and its "oncological goals are to employ its broad portfolio of biological molecules to activate endogenous NK and CD8+ T cells, and to develop a T cell memory cancer vaccine to combat multiple tumor types without the use of high-dose chemotherapy." The firm is also registered in Culver City, Calif.

NantKwest has a has a market capitalization of around $521.3 million with approximately 98.37 million shares outstanding and a short interest of about 2.9%. NK shares opened relatively unchanged today at $5.35 (+$0.05, +0.94%) over yesterday's $5.30 closing price. The share price then took off during mid-morning trading and reached a new 52-week high price of $9.90. The stock has traded today between $5.35 to $9.90 per share and is presently trading at $8.16 (+$2.86, +53.96%).

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