WB starts Nkarta at OP; fair-value estimate $35

William Blair launched coverage of Nkarta (NASDAQ:NKTX) with an “outperform” rating and fair-value estimate of $35. The stock closed at $14.27 on Jan. 5.

Nkarta is developing allogeneic chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) natural killer (NK) cell therapies for the treatment of cancer. The company’s two wholly-owned assets, NKX101 and NKX019, are being studied in Phase 1 clinical trials and are both expected to read out initial data in 2022.

“We believe the company’s pipeline logically builds on the clinical success of non-engineered NK-cell therapies in AML and CD19 CAR-T therapies for B-cell malignancies, strategically positioning the company in the burgeoning CAR-NK space,” writes analyst Sami Corwin, Ph.D.

Non-engineered NK-cell anti-leukemic activity and a seminal study out of MD Andersen support the development of Nkarta’s pipeline of CAR-NK therapies, she added. 

“NK cells present an intriguing vehicle for adoptive immunotherapies and have a number of potential advantages over T-cells as CAR effectors, including having little to no risk for graft-versus-host disease and a more tolerable safety profile, suggesting they could be a readily available allogeneic option that is able to be administered in an outpatient setting,” Dr. Corwin said. 

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