NK:IO, a leader in natural killer (NK) cell biology applied to the development of exceptionally potent, off-the-shelf cell therapies targeting solid tumours, has raised £1.2m.

The latest investment has swelled the company’s total equity financing to £3.2m and is in addition to £1.9m grants.

The £1.9m comprises the recent Innovate UK New Cancer Therapeutics award of £1.6m and a previous Innovate UK Accelerator grant of £300,000.

The current investment round was led by Cancer Research Horizons through its seed fund and included the Imperial College Enterprise Fund, Start Codon, UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund and Meltwind.

The company was founded in December 2020 by Hugh J M Brady, Matt Fuchter, and Mike Romanos, an experienced industry executive and entrepreneur.

The board is chaired by Keith Thompson CBE, former CEO of the UK’s Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult.

The company’s first indication targeted will be ovarian cancer, in collaboration with Prof Iain McNeish, professor of oncology at Imperial College, director of the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre and a leading expert in the field.

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The investment will be used to drive NK:IO’s cell therapy candidates through full pre-clinical testing.

Mike Romanos, co-founder and interim CEO, said: “We are very excited by the potential of NK:IO’s platform to address unmet needs in cancer cell therapy, including solid tumours, and to revolutionise the field.

“We are delighted by the support of our investors, including Cancer Research Horizons, who have joined to lead the round.

“Our recent success in securing non-dilutive funding under Innovate UK’s ‘New Cancer Therapeutics’ program further endorses this vision.”

Tony Hickson, chief business officer at Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Horizons, said: “Cancer Research Horizons believes that NK:IO’s technology, based on pioneering research from Imperial College, has transformational potential for cancer patients.

“We are delighted to support the company’s progression and excited to work with the team as they progress to the clinic.”

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