SAN DIEGO (December 29, 2014) – Conkwest, Inc. (the Natural Killer Cell Company of the West), an immuno-oncology company developing Neukoplast®, a proprietary Natural Killer (NK) cell-line based therapy, announces the appointments of Robert Rosen and Henry Ji, Ph.D. to the Company’s Board of Directors. Mr. Rosen is President of Heron Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HRTX) and Dr. Ji is co-founder, President and CEO of Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: SRNE).
“Robert Rosen and Henry Ji bring valuable skills and experience to Conkwest, and we welcome them to our Board of Directors,” said Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., Co-Chairman of the Conkwest Board of Directors. “Neukoplast is the only known cell line that can be commercialized as a direct, scalable, off-the-shelf cancer-killing product. We look forward to developing this proprietary asset, including the next-generation CAR-TNK products.”
“We are thrilled to add to our Board of Directors these two industry executives with strong records of commercial success,” said Barry J. Simon, M.D., President and CEO of Conkwest.
“Robert’s commercial oncology experience spans specialty pharma, global biotechnology and Big Pharma. Importantly, he has led campaigns to commercialize billion dollar products in addition to experience with cell-based oncology therapeutics. He brings broad-based expertise in strategic planning, research, portfolio management, business development and partnership management, as well as three decades of connections in the oncology community.”
“Henry has extensive experience with developing oncology therapeutics, as well as with entrepreneurial, fast moving companies. His background including both clinical research and executive management responsibilities will be invaluable to Conkwest as we advance our business plan. Henry also brings to our Board a deep commitment to success given the business and financial ties between Conkwest and Sorrento Therapeutics. ”
Mr. Rosen has worked in the healthcare industry for the past 30 years, including more than 20 years with oncology therapeutics. Since 2012 he has been with Heron Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company developing treatments for cancer and pain, where he currently serves as President. He is a Director of Heron Therapeutics as well as a Director of La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co. (NASDAQ: LJPC), a biopharmaceutical company focused on life-threatening diseases. Prior to Heron Therapeutics he was Senior Vice President of Global Commercial Operations at Dendreon Corporation, an oncology biotechnology company.
Earlier in his career Mr. Rosen was Global Head of Oncology at Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals with responsibility for the Americas, Europe, Japan and Asia Pacific. At Bayer he led the launch of Nexavar® (sorafanib) for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. He also led premarket activities for Stivarga® (regorafenib) for gastrointestinal stromal tumors and colon cancer, and Alpharadin® (radium 2234 dichloride), now known as Xofigo, for prostate cancer.
Prior to Bayer he was Vice President of the Oncology Business Unit at Sanofi-Synthelabo, where he was responsible for developing the U.S. oncology business and the launch of Eloxatin® (oxaliplatin) for colon cancer.
Mr. Rosen received a BS in pharmacy from Northeastern University.
Dr. Ji co-founded and has served as a Director of Sorrento Therapeutics since 2006 and as President and CEO since 2012. Previously he served as the company’s Chief Scientific Officer and as Interim CEO.
Earlier in his career Dr. Ji served as a Vice President of CombiMatrix with responsibility for strategic technology alliances, and was Director of Business Development and Vice President of the biotechnology company Stratagene (later acquired by Agilent Technologies). He co-founded Stratagene Genomics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stratagene Corporation, and served as President and CEO.
Dr. Ji received a BS in biochemistry from Fudan University in Shanghai and a Ph.D. in animal physiology from the University of Minnesota.
Conkwest is an innovative immuno-oncology company that is developing and commercializing a portfolio of highly potent and selective cellular therapies for the treatment of cancers and serious viral infections. Conkwest’s products are based on its proprietary cancer-killing cell line Neukoplast®, the only known cell line that can be commercialized as a direct, scalable, off-the-shelf cancer-killing product. Neukoplast® recognizes, binds to and directly kills cells expressing stress ligands such as LFA-3, Heparin Sulfate, ICAM-1 and other stress-induced proteins commonly found on cancers and virally infected cells. It has demonstrated broad anti-cancer activity both in vitro and in human clinical trials while sparing patients from the serious adverse reactions often seen with T-CAR based therapies. Cancer patients have been treated in Phase I clinical trials at Rush University, Frankfurt AM Main, Princess Margaret Hospital and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and preparations for the first U.S. Phase II trial in Merkel cell carcinoma are underway. Conkwest’s universal antibody-targeted CD16-Neukoplast™, a reengineered product that expresses both the high-affinity version of FcgammaR3 (CD16) and ER-IL2 to efficiently target therapeutic monoclonal antibodies such as Rituxan, Herceptin and Erbitux is advancing through the preclinical stage of development. Conkwest also commercializes Neukopanel™, an Neukoplast based bioassay panel for the screening and qualification of therapeutic monoclonal antibody products, with revenue-bearing licenses to many large pharma and biotechnology companies.
This release may contain forward-looking statements, which express the current beliefs and expectations of Conkwest’s management. Such statements involve a number of known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause the company’s future results, performance or achievements to differ significantly from the results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Any statements contained herein that do not describe historical facts, including but not limited to, statements regarding Mr. Rosen’s expected contributions to Conkwest’s Board of Directors are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made only as of the date hereof, and the company undertakes no obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.