Press Releases

Catamaran Bio’s Scientific Founder Leads Pivotal Advancements in Non-viral Engineering of CAR-NK Cells Using Novel Transposon Technology

Transposon technology efficiently generates active CAR-NK cells and has potential advantages compared to viral approaches

Oral presentation highlighted at the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy annual meeting

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – May 11, 2021 – Catamaran Bio, Inc., a biotechnology company developing allogeneic CAR-NK cell therapies to treat solid tumors, today announced that an oral presentation with results generated using an advanced transposon technology for non-viral engineering of CAR-NK cells will be highlighted at the virtual annual meeting of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT), based on work from the laboratory of the company’s scientific founder, Branden Moriarity, PhD. This is the first presentation of data for this novel transposon technology in NK cells, demonstrating high efficiency transposon integration in primary NK cells, subsequent cell expansion, and in vitro activity of the resulting CAR-NK cells. Dr. Moriarity, an Assistant Professor at the Medical School at the University of Minnesota in the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, is a pioneer in the fields of genome engineering and non-viral cell engineering and a scientific co-founder of Catamaran.  In addition to an ongoing research collaboration with Dr. Moriarity, Catamaran also received support through an early investment from the University of Minnesota Discovery Capital investment program.

“We congratulate our collaborators at the University of Minnesota for this landmark presentation, which provides the first demonstration that this transposon technology efficiently generates active CAR-NK cells and offers potential advantages compared to viral vectors in the manufacture of CAR-NK cells,” said Vipin Suri, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Catamaran Bio. “This novel transposon technology demonstrates important capabilities for improved manufacturability, which will be essential in developing safe and effective cell therapies for solid tumors.  We look forward to working with Dr. Moriarity as we develop and advance our CAR-NK programs.”

The oral presentation, entitled “Non-Viral Engineering of CAR-NK Cells Using the TC Buster Transposon System™,” will occur on Thursday, May 13, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. ET during the Advances in Cellular and Immunotherapies session of the ASGCT virtual meeting. The data presented highlights the following research findings:

  • Approximately 50% transposon integration efficiency using the transposon technology to deliver a multi‑cistronic chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) cassette into primary human peripheral blood NK cells.
  • Resulting cells underwent greater than 800-fold expansion and demonstrated efficacy in an in vitro cell-killing assay.

In contrast to the viral gene delivery methods commonly used in cell therapy manufacturing today, DNA transposon technology has the capacity to efficiently deliver large multi‑cistronic DNA cargoes and drive multiplex genome engineering via a single electroporation step. Transposons have the potential for more convenient and cost-effective manufacture of cell therapy products.

“We are pleased to present these data showing the effective transposon integration in primary NK cells with our transposon technology, the rapid expansion of the resulting CAR-NK cells and their activity in an in vitro model,” said Dr. Moriarity. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with the team at Catamaran to utilize this technology in conjunction with their CAR-NK cell therapy platform as they advance new cell therapy approaches to treat solid tumors.”

About the TAILWIND™ platform

Catamaran’s TAILWIND™ platform integrates proprietary capabilities to create novel, allogeneic CAR‑NK cell therapies by harnessing the natural cancer-fighting properties of natural killer (NK) cells and enhancing them with the power of synthetic biology and innovative NK cell engineering and manufacturing. With the TAILWIND platform, CAR-NK cells are programmed with NK cell-specific CAR architectures and potency-boosting switches to neutralize the hostile tumor microenvironment and enable efficacy against diverse cancer types, especially solid tumors. Additionally, the TAILWIND platform includes proprietary, non-viral NK cell engineering technology for efficient modification of NK cells with customized genetic programs enabled by synthetic biology. Catamaran’s CAR-NK cell therapies use healthy donor cells that are engineered and manufactured for off‑the‑shelf use, unlike current CAR-T cell therapies that use a patient’s own genetically modified T cells and require a customized, multi-week manufacturing process.

About Catamaran Bio

Catamaran Bio is developing novel, off-the-shelf CAR-NK cell therapies designed to treat a broad range of cancers, including solid tumors. Our proprietary capabilities enable us to harness the natural cancer-fighting properties of NK cells and enhance and tailor their effectiveness with the power of synthetic biology and innovative non-viral cell engineering. We are using our TAILWIND™ platform, an integrated suite of technologies, to specifically address the end-to-end methods of engineering, processing and manufacturing NK cells and rapidly advance our pipeline of CAR-NK cell therapy programs. Our team combines experienced biopharmaceutical leadership with founding scientists who are pioneers in NK cell biology, engineering, manufacturing and clinical application. Catamaran is backed by leading financial and corporate investors, including SV Health Investors, Sofinnova Partners, Lightstone Ventures, Takeda Ventures, Astellas Venture Management, and the UMN Discovery Capital investment program. For more information, please visit and follow us on LinkedIn and @CatamaranBio on Twitter.