NantKwest $207M IPO Sets Biotech Record for Market Cap

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. (Source:

NantKwest IPO Nasdaq FB

The $NK #IPO celebration continues in #TimesSquare with the NantKwest team on the #Nasdaq tower!

Posted by Nasdaq on Facebook  Tuesday, 28 July 2015

NantKwest, Inc. (formerly Conkwest, Inc.), a clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on harnessing the power of the innate immune system by using the natural killer cell to treat cancer, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases, announced its plans for an IPO on June 17, 2015.  Pricing of its initial public offering of 8,288,000 shares of its common stock at a price to the public of $25.00 per share on July 27th and commenced trading on  The Nasdaq Global Select Market on July 28, 2015, under the symbol “NK.”

“Last year Conkwest was just another small, largely unknown biotech with big plans in immuno-oncology,”according to John Carrolof Fierce Biotech.”But after biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong bought in and took the CEO title, renaming the company NantKwest, it’s now leaping onto the scene with a record-setting IPO that establishes a market cap baseline at a whopping $2.6 billion.”

At its offer price, NantKwest commanded a fully-diluted market cap of $2.6 billion, the largest ever for a biotech IPO according to Renaissance Capital IPO.

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) Targeted activated killing using taNKs, which are NK cells engineered to incorporate chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to target tumor-specific antigens found on the surface of cancer cells.

The NantKwest Team was in New York for the big day and rang the Nasdaq Closing Bell to celebrate the launch.

NantKwest’s executive chairman, Dr. Patrick Soon- Shiong is actively engaged as a leader  in Arizona’s life science eco-system.

Dr. Soon-Shiong founded Abraxis Bioscience (now Celgene) which pioneered Abraxane®.  The drug’s rigorous clinical trials were overseen by Scottsdale Healthcare (now HonorHealth) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). Abraxane wraps traditional chemotherapy, paclitaxel, in near-nano sized shells of albumin, a protein that the tumor recognizes as food. Once inside the tumor, the Abraxane acts like a “Trojan Horse” to release chemotherapy and kill the cancer cells.  Today, Abraxane is manufactured in Phoenix by Celgene.

Dr. Soon-Shiong also has a long standing relationship with Arizona State University and the University of Arizona as chairman of The Healthcare Transformation Institute.  HTI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating health value by improving health outcomes, access to health services, and the way patient care is delivered.  The goal is to better link scientific discovery, healthcare delivery, and the reimbursement for health services, to achieve high-value patient-centric care. HTI is a joint venture of the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation

In 2014,  Phoenix Children’s Hospital  announced the formation of a visionary institute, The Chan Soon-Shiong Children’s Precision Medicine Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.  The partnership brings together the medical expertise and resources of renowned surgeon and health care technology visionary Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, with Phoenix Children’s commitment to genomic research and access to a large pediatric patient base. The institute will transform the pediatric health care landscape by applying state-of-the-art genomic and proteomic technology to identify precision diagnoses, treatments and cures for young patients facing serious illnesses.

In May of 2015, The Phoenix City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to expand the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus, adding an endeavor that partners Arizona State University and the medical research firm NantWorks.  ASU and NantWorks will develop a Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine at ASU, where ASU research activities and researchers and faculty will form joint research teams with NantWorks and other future users.


The project is designed to catalyze and accelerate growth in pharmaceutical and health-solutions industries that are devoted to precision medicine and the use of data and research in the design of diagnostics and treatments for disease and disease prevention. Most of these efforts initially will focus on advancing cancer detection and treatment.

 “Through collaboration, we can help ensure that discoveries, new approaches and clinical advances reach patients more quickly and improve medical outcomes” shared Soon-Shiong at the time of the NantWorks/ ASU announcement. “We are at one of the most exciting flexion points in the history of medicine whereby informatics, predictive modeling and immunotherapy such as natural killer cells will transform cancer care as we know it today.”

Posted in AZBio News.