Paul Y. Song, MD, on Taking a Holistic Approach to Treating Parkinson Disease


The chairman and chief executive officer of NKGen discussed the potential of SNK01, the company’s autologous natural killer cell therapy, in treating PD.

“We believe it's a much more holistic approach—that you're not only removing the proteins, but you're also removing the neuroinflammation. We believe this will lead to a much more potentially comprehensive improvement in patients’ symptoms and condition versus just targeting the proteins or [another] symptom.”

Parkinson disease (PD) is a highly complex disorder with a pathophysiology that is still not fully understood by the medical community. As such, many attempts to treat PD thus far have sought to address and ameliorate the symptoms of the disorder rather than the root cause. Because accumulation of a protein referred to as α-synuclein has been found to be associated with PD symptoms, some investigational therapies for PD aim to reduce this protein. Although, research has also implicated neuroinflammation in the manifestation of PD. This indicates that efforts focused only on clearing out α-synuclein may miss a key element of the disease pathophysiology.

The company NKGen Biotech is currently developing SNK01, an autologous natural killer (NK) cell therapy, with the intention of addressing both the accumulation of α-synuclein and the neuroinflammation associated with PD. Notably, NKGen recently received clearance from the FDA for a phase 1/2a clinical trial for SNK01 in PD.

Shortly thereafter, CGTLive® reached out to Paul Y. Song, MD, the chairman and chief executive officer of NKGen, to learn more about the potential of NK cell therapy in PD. Song discussed aspects of PD pathophysiology that have come to light in recent years, such as the impact of T-cells on neuroinflammation in an autoimmune disease-like fashion. He also spoke about how SNK01, which consists of patient’s own NK cells that have been expanded and enhanced outside the body before readministration, might function in treating PD. Song also noted that SNK01, which was originally developed for oncology indications, has also shown potential in the treatment of Alzheimer disease.

1. NKGen Biotech announces FDA clearance of investigational new drug (IND) application for SNK01 NK cell therapy in Parkinson’s disease. News release. NKGen Biotech, Inc. April 30, 2024. Accessed July 8, 2024.

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