Sorrento Therapeutics Launches Joint Venture With South Korean Biotech

San Diego drugmaker Sorrento Therapeutics is launching a joint venture with South Korea’s CHA Biotech to develop an anti-cancer therapy. This is the latest in a string of joint ventures Sorrento has created in the last few months.

The joint venture will be working with a technology that takes natural killer cells from patient blood and uses them to develop “highly activated” natural killer cells. The resulting activated killer cells (called AKCs) can be cryopreserved, and more than 1,000 AKC batches have already been produced and are in clinical testing in Japan, according to Sorrento.

"In the rapidly growing field of natural killer cell-based therapies, CHA Biotech’s activated killer cell technology stands out as one of the most promising and advanced platforms," said Henry Ji, president and CEO of Sorrento, in a statement.

The duo believes that Sorrento’s chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology will enhance AKC’s anti-cancer activity.

Both CHA Biotech and Sorrento will pitch in $2 million to the joint venture, with CHA Biotech holding 51 percent while Sorrento will hold the remaining 49 percent of the company. Sorrento will also get a license to develop and market CHA Biotech’s AKC technology in territories including the U.S., Europe, and China.

The joint venture will be headquartered in South Korea, at CHA Bio Complex, Korea’s largest biomedical research center, according to CHA Biotech CEO Jong-soo Choi.

San Diego’s Sorrento is stacking up partnerships and joint ventures in recent years. In July, the company announced a partnership with French pharma Servier. Before that, it announced a joint venture with 3SBio in June.

Sorrento also raised $150 million in a June private placement led by Hong Kong investor Ally Bridge Group, an impressive feat considering that its market cap is only $264 million.

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