US-based biopharmaceutical firm Nkarta Therapeutics has raised $114m in series B funding round to advance its natural killer (NK) cell-based cancer drug candidates into clinical trials.

Samsara BioCapital led the oversubscribed financing round.

Amgen Ventures, Deerfield Management, Logos Capital, Life Science Partners, RA Capital Management, NEA, Novo Holdings and SR One also joined the round.

Nkarta intends to use the proceeds to conduct clinical trials of NKX101 in hematologic malignancies and solid tumours. The allogeneic NK cell therapy is designed to act on the NKG2D receptor.

The company will also support investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies, as well as trials of a CAR-NK programme that targets CD19 in B-cell malignancies.

Furthermore, Nkarta is developing additional candidates using its NK cell engineering platform.

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By GlobalData

The company expects to complete a manufacturing facility in South San Francisco, US next year to facilitate the supply of investigational products for early-stage trials.

Nkarta Therapeutics president and CEO Paul Hastings said: “With multiple INDs expected in the next year for an array of hematologic and solid tumours, now is the time to fund the company for its next stage of growth.

“We appreciate the strategic vision, intellectual contributions and capital from our new and existing investors and we look forward to their continued support as we begin clinical trials of our next-generation cell therapy programmes for patients with many different types of cancer.”

Founded in 2015, the company leverages NK cells to detect and kill abnormal cells.

It combines its NK expansion platform and other cell engineering technologies to produce NK cells, engineer improved identification of tumour targets by the cells and also enable sustained activity against cancer.

Nkarta aims to create off-the-shelf NK cell therapies to provide better patient outcomes.