A small, Santa Ana-based biotech created in 2017 is looking to enter a SPAC deal as it lays out plans to begin trials in its lead cell therapy candidates and bring on new executives.
Graf Acquisition Corp. IV and NKGen Biotech announced Thursday, with few other details, that the two companies signed a non-binding letter of intent to “pursue a business combination.” Graf Acquisition II and III withdrew their IPOs last year.
NKGen aims to make natural killer cell therapies in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as oncology. One of its candidates, SNK01, is in two Phase I trial that are listed as active but not recruiting, one in advanced solid tumors and one in advanced and/or metastatic refractory cancer. There’s a third Phase I trial listed for Alzheimer’s disease listed as recruiting.
According to the company’s website, SNK02, NKGen’s allogeneic NK cell therapy, received IND clearance in Q4 of 2022 with plans to start a Phase I study in solid tumors in the first half of 2023.
NKGen has been making executive changes since the start of the year, with the hiring of Paul Song as CEO and vice chairman of the board of directors in January. Song came over from Fuse Biotherapeutics, a company developing immune-modulating therapies for cancer.
At the time, Song said “several key milestones” were in store for NKGen in 2023 regarding SNK01, an autologous candidate, and SNK02, an allogeneic cell therapy candidate.
In February, NKGen brought on Benson Fong as CFO from Nehalem Advisory.
The company was founded in 2017 as a subsidiary of Korea-based NKMax with a $35 million corporate investment. Then in 2019, the company raised $11 million in a seed funding round.
This content was originally published here.