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NantKwest Appoints Dr. Leonard Sender as Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs for Pediatric, Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology

Company adds esteemed pediatric, adolescent and young adult oncology expert to leadership team

CULVER CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 16, 2017-- NantKwest Inc. (Nasdaq:NK), a pioneering, next generation, clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on harnessing the unique power of our immune system using natural killer (NK) cells to treat cancer, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases, announced today the appointment of Leonard S. Sender, MD, as senior vice president of Medical Affairs for Pediatric, Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology.

“With pediatric cancer as a leading cause of death for children in the United States, we knew that it was imperative to have someone on our team that has knowledge and expertise in identifying, diagnosing and treating patients within this demographic,” said Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, chairman and CEO of NantKwest. “Having Dr. Sender as part of the Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 program has proven to be invaluable as we target this deadly disease in young patients. We are excited to bring Dr. Sender on board and are confident that he will be a strong asset to our team as we continue our journey in winning the war on cancer.”

Dr. Sender currently serves as the Medical Director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children's Hospital as well as the Executive Director of the Pediatric, Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 Program for the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Medicine. Prior to joining NantKwest, he was the Medical Director of Clinical Oncology at the University of California’s NCI designated Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Since the launch of Cancer Breakthroughs 2020, I have been working with Dr. Soon-Shiong and his team on this journey to combatting cancer,” said Dr. Sender. “Childhood cancer is unique and as we continue to focus on personalized medicine, we need to think about ways we can transform the way we treat pediatrics, adolescents and young adolescents to ensure they have the best chance of survival. I am thrilled to be a part of the NantKwest team and look forward to working with my peers to research and develop effective ways to treat our young patients who have been faced with cancer.”

In over 20 years of experience treating pediatric, adolescent and young adult cancer patients and survivors, Dr. Sender has seen and experienced how the field of oncology has transformed, and how concerted efforts are now made to address patients’ ancillary needs, including fertility preservation, management of acute and chronic treatment effects, and to be sensitive to the psychosocial impacts of a cancer diagnosis on those just beginning their most productive years. Dr. Sender's research interests are comprehensive and multidisciplinary, extending from epidemiological components (incidence, prevalence), to biological factors (genomic or cellular differences), to the psychosocial impact of cancer, to long-term cancer survivorship. In 2011, Dr. Sender was the recipient of a $10 millionHyundai Hope on Wheels grant to study the genomic basis of pediatric and adolescent and young adult cancers to test the hypothesis that genomic knowledge can enable clinical decisions related to treatment options. In 2010, he founded two entities critical to the development of the emerging adolescent and young adult (AYA) oncology subspecialty as President of the Society for Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (SAYAO) and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (JAYAO).

About NantKwest

NantKwest (NASDAQ:NK) is a pioneering, next generation, clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on harnessing the unique power of our immune system using natural killer (NK) cells to treat cancer, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases. NK cells are the body’s first line of defense due to the innate ability of NK cells to rapidly identify and destroy cells under stress, such as cancer or virally-infected cells.

NantKwest’s unique NK cell-based platform, with the capacity to grow active killer cells as a biological cancer therapy, has been designed to induce cell death against cancer or infected cells by three different modes of action: (1) Direct killing using activated NK cells (aNK) that release toxic granules directly into the cell through cell to cell contact, (2) Antibody-mediated killing using haNKs, which are NK cells engineered to incorporate a high affinity receptor that binds to an administered antibody, enhancing the cancer cell killing effect of that antibody, and (3) Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) activated killing using taNKs, which are NK cells engineered to incorporate CARs to target tumor-specific antigens found on the surface of cancer cells.

Our aNK, haNK® and taNK™ platform addresses certain limitations of T cell therapies including the reduction of risk of serious “cytokine storms” reported after T cell therapy. As an “off-the-shelf” therapy, NantKwest’s NK cells do not rely on a patient’s own often compromised immune system. In Phase 1 clinical trials in patients with late stage cancer, NantKwest’s NK cells have been successfully administered as an outpatient infusion therapy without any reported severe side effects, even at doses of 10 billion cells.

By leveraging an integrated and extensive genomics and transcriptomics discovery and development engine, together with a pipeline of multiple, clinical-stage, immuno-oncology programs that include a Phase 2 trial for a rare form of melanoma and the planned initiation of a clinical trial of NK cells targeted to breast cancer, we believe NantKwest is uniquely positioned to be the premier immunotherapy company and transform medicine by delivering living drugs in a bag and bringing novel NK cell-based therapies to routine clinical care. For more information please visit and follow Dr. Soon-Shiong on Twitter @DrPatSoonShiong.

Source: NantKwest Inc.

Jen Hodson