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ONK Therapeutics Appoints Mary Reilly as Chief Operating Officer

ONK Therapeutics Appoints Mary Reilly as Chief Operating Officer

  • Mary Reilly joins as COO, to lead the company’s international operations and drive growth ambitions to transition from a pre-clinical to a clinical-stage company
  • 30 years’ experience in all aspects of global drug development and company operations
  • Prior experience as COO at Opsona Therapeuticsas well as at BioInvent International, Neuramedy, Elan Pharmaceuticals, and Taro Pharmaceuticals

Galway, Ireland and San Diego, USA, 18 January 2021 - ONK Therapeutics Ltd, an innovative natural killer (NK) cell therapy company, today announced that it has appointed Mary Reilly as Chief Operating Officer (COO). Based at the company’s headquarters in Galway, Ireland, she joins ONK Therapeutics’ Executive Leadership Team.

Mary is an accomplished, senior biopharma executive with over 30 years’ experience in all aspects of global drug development and company operations. Following its successful financing in October 2020, ONK Therapeutics has expanded its management and R&D teams significantly and opened state-of-the-art laboratories in both Galway, Ireland, and San Diego, USA. She will take on responsibility for the Company’s operations and will drive its organizational development as it transitions from a pre-clinical stage company through IND enabling studies.

Prior to joining ONK Therapeutics, Mary was consultant COO at both BioInvent International, a public Swedish company focused on the clinical development of antibody drugs for immunotherapy against cancer, and Neuramedy, a South Korean company developing drugs for neurodegenerative diseases. She was previously COO of Opsona Therapeutics, a biotech company focused on the development of an antibody targeting TLR2 in several disease areas. Earlier industry roles include senior leadership positions at Elan Pharmaceuticals and Taro Pharmaceuticals.

Mary has a first-class Masters in Pharmaceutical Science from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and is eligible to act as a Qualified Person under EU clinical directive 2001/20/EC (Clinical Trials-Regulation EU No 536/2014) for the certification of medicinal products. She also has a Master’s degree in leadership from the Irish Management Institute (IMI) and a Diploma in Company Direction and Corporate Governance from the Institute of Directors (IOD).

Welcoming Mary to the team Chris Nowers, ONK Therapeutics’ CEO said, “As we continue our exciting growth trajectory, Mary’s breadth of experience and operational leadership across key aspects of our business will be invaluable and I look forward to working closely with her. Her broad experience in clinical development will be key as we continue to progress our best-in-class, off-the-shelf, dual-targeted NK cell therapy platform toward the clinic.”

Mary said, “Joining ONK Therapeutics during JPM week has provided a fast introduction to the company’s unique approach and the potential of its allogeneic NK cell therapy platform. I am looking forward to working with colleagues here in Ireland and in the USA, and our partners and collaborators worldwide, to help drive the company forward.”


ONK Therapeutics

ONK Therapeutics Ltd is an innovative cell therapy company dedicated to developing the next generation of ‘off-the-shelf’, dual-targeted NK cell therapies targeting solid and hematological cancers.

The company was founded in 2015, by Prof. O’Dwyer MD, of NUI Galway, an expert in translational multiple myeloma research, the tumor microenvironment, and exploitation of NK cells as cellular immunotherapy. Its core proprietary off-the-shelf platform is based on a dual-targeted NK cell expressing both a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) targeting a known tumor antigen and a TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand variant (TRAILv) targeting the death receptor pathway (i.e., DR4 or DR5). This unique approach has the potential to enhance efficacy by addressing both intrinsic (e.g., CAR engagement of a tumor-specific antigen) and extrinsic (e.g., signaling through the death receptor pathway) apoptotic pathways and to reduce the susceptibility to possible target antigen escape through the engagement of tumor antigen-independent TRAILv. 

Its pre-clinical pipeline comprises four programs:

  • The lead program, ONKT101, is a dual-targeted NK cell therapy incorporating a CD19 CAR and TRAILv targeting DR5, intended for the treatment of relapsed/refractory B cell malignancies. This program is partnered with Avectas, with the company having responsibility for development to Phase 1
  • ONKT102 combines an optimized affinity CD38 CAR and a TRAILv targeting DR5, intended for the treatment of patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma
  • ONKT103 combines a TA-MUC1 CAR with a TRAILv targeting DR5, for the treatment of solid tumors
  • ONKT104 combines a CLEC12A CAR with a TRAILv targeting DR4, for the treatment of AML

In addition to the unique off-the-shelf, dual-targeted NK cell therapy platform, the company has a strong research focus on strategies to enhance homing and persistence, and overcome exhaustion, including the exploration of proprietary gene edits, such as the deletion of checkpoint inhibitory receptors in NK cells. 

ONK Therapeutics is headquartered in the med-tech hub of Galway, Ireland, with a wholly-owned US subsidiary, ONK Therapeutics, Inc. based at JLabs @ San Diego. Shareholders include Acorn Bioventures, ALSHC (principally Seamus Mulligan), and Enterprise Ireland.

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Last Updated: 19-Jan-2021