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Oncternal Therapeutics, Karolinska Institute Partner on Developing ROR1-Targeted Cell Therapies

NEW YORK – Oncternal Therapeutics on Thursday announced that it has entered into a research and development partnership with the Karolinska Institute in Sweden to advance its ROR1-targeting cell therapies into clinical studies.

The ROR1 cell therapies, which the firm is initially developing as autologous CAR T cell and CAR NK cell treatments for patients with a variety of solid tumors and hematologic cancers, will be evaluated in IND-enabling preclinical studies within the NextGenNK Center at the Karolinska Institute. The center, which was launched last year, receives funding from Sweden's innovation agency Vinnova, the Karolinska Institute, and industry partners.

Oncternal is also evaluating therapeutic combinations involving its investigational ROR1-targeting monoclonal antibody, cirmtuzumab, in clinical trials involving patients with B-cell lymphoid malignancies and HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer. According to James Breitmeyer, the firm's president and CEO, the ROR1 binding domain used in this monoclonal antibody is a component of the CAR therapies under development and could give the treatments a "safety and efficacy advantage."

"ROR1 has emerged as an important and underexplored target for cancer therapy, and we believe that ROR1-targeting CAR T and CAR NK therapies hold significant promise for patients with both hematologic cancers and solid tumors," Breitmeyer said in a statement.