News Feature | December 19, 2014

Sorrento Enters Joint Venture With NantWorks For Cancer Immunotherapies

By Suzanne Hodsden

Sorrento announced a collaboration with Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, founder of NantWorks, who has invested an initial $20 million to aid with the development of a wide range of biologic cancer and auto-immune disorder therapies addressing current unmet clinical needs.

The collaboration will establish an independent biotechnology company called “The Immunotherapy Antibody JV.” With the $20 million investment, NantWorks acquires a 20 percent stake in Sorrento with the option of purchasing additional stock in the future.

Dr. Henry Ji, CEO of Sorrento, expressed his enthusiasm about the joint venture and its potential to address current unmet needs in cancer therapy. The investment will add a needed boost to Sorrento’s existing pipeline of monoclonal antibodies, antibody drug conjugates (ADCs), and bispecific antibodies.

Ji commented, “Our innovative collaboration will unite Sorrento’s capability to develop complex biologics with NantWorks proprietary genomic and personalized medicine technologies.”

This biologic approach to cancer treatment represents the growing tidal wave of biologic medicine currently in development. While traditional cancer treatments have been known for their ravaging effects on the human bodies, a biological approach is much less harsh and offers an even greater rate of efficacy by utilizing the body’s own immune system.

Sorrento’s press release cited a recent projection released by Citigroup, which predicts the markets for these medicines could reach $35 billion in the next 10 years.

Because biologics are such a currently complex and unstable research endeavor, collaborations are becoming quite common in the pharmaceutical industry. Uniting research and funding channels creates a much greater likelihood of success.

Touted as the “richest doctor in the world” by Forbes, Patrick Soon-Shiong is the founder of NantWorks, the umbrella company which houses NantHealth, NantMobile, NantMedia, NantOmics, NantBioScience, NantBioCell, NantPharma, NantCapital, and NantCloud. Forbes valued NantHealth alone at over $7.7 billion.

The company specializes in introducing advanced computer technology into the clinic with plans and platforms set to revolutionize the way that cancer is diagnosed and catalogued. Forbes reports that Genomics England, a new initiative to collect the genetic sequences of all British citizens by 2017, has made use of a Nant platform.