Our History

NKGen Biotech’s history begins in 2002, when the company, originally known as ATGen, was created with the goal of becoming a global leader in immune cell therapeutics.

Company Highlights


  • Paul Y. Song, MD is appointed Chief Executive Officer of NKGen Biotech and initiates strategic shift focusing on neurodegenerative diseases
  • Scientific Advisory Board is established to drive pipeline strategies for NK cell therapies in neurodegenerative diseases
  • NKGen completes merger with Graf Acquisition Corp. IV and becomes public-traded company on Nasdaq under the symbol NKGN
  • NKGen presents interim Phase I data showing SNK01 appears to cross the blood-brain barrier to reduce proteins and neuroinflammation in a dose-dependent manner in Alzheimer’s disease
  • USFDA approves IND for Phase I/IIa trial of SNK01 in moderate Alzheimer’s disease


  • NKGen collaboration with the Parkinson’s Foundation is initiated with a focus on ways to accelerate SNK01 for the treatment of advanced Parkinson’s disease
  • USFDA grants IND Clearance to SNK02 Allogeneic natural killer cell therapy for solid tumors without the need for lymphodepletion
Cell therapy specialists NKGen


  • NKMax America undergoes key leadership changes and formalizes strategic focus
  • USFDA approves Affimed and NKMax America IND application to study AFM-24 and SNK01 in solid tumors
  • NKMax America changes corporate name to NKGen Biotech, Inc.
  • Leadership team strengthened with the addition of new CMO and CFO with strong success in leading biotech products to market
logo square


  • USFDA approves IND for Phase I/IIa trial of SNK01 in combination for treatment of advanced/metastatic HER2- or EGFR-expressing cancers
  • NKMax granted clearance by USFDA to expand current Phase I monotherapy trial of SNK01 to include new cohort + checkpoint inhibitors in refractory solid tumors
  • Signed clinical trial collaboration and supply agreement with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and Pfizer
lab worker


  • ATGen and NKMax Korea are merged into NKMax.
  • NKMax America obtains a drug manufacturing license from the department of public health food and drug branch in the state of California.
  • NKMax America establishes a cGMP manufacturing facility for production of SNK cell therapy.
  • USFDA approves an IND for a Phase I trial refractory cancer.
  • NKMax America doses first subject in Phase I trial of SNK in patients with refractory cancer.
  • NKMax America initiates Phase I clinical trial of SNK in patients with psoriasis in Mexico.
  • NKMax America secures $11 million seed funding round.
NKMax America Building


  • NKMax Korea obtains the first MFDS (clinical trial application to the Korean FDA) approval for a Phase 1/2a trial for SNK + Keytruda in NSCLC patients in Korea.
  • Our first CLIA registered, CAP accredited clinical lab is established in Irvine, California, USA for NK Vue testing and biomarker evaluations.
  • Patent registration is completed for SNK (2 patents) and for the NK Vue immunosurveillance test (1 patent).
2018 SNK


  • NKMax America, a wholly owned subsidiary of ATGen Global, is founded to bring life-saving immune cell therapy to the United States. Our U.S. headquarters is established in Irvine, CA.
  • NKMax America receives initial funding from our parent company, ATGen Global, consisting of a corporate investment in the amount of $35 M.


  • NKMax Korea, an affiliate of the ATGen corporation, is founded. Our Korean headquarters is located in Seongnam, a major city in the Seoul Capital Area in South Korea.
  • NKMax Korea acquires technology for our NK cell therapy through a patent for an innovative NK cell culture and treatment process.
2016 Cell Expansion graph v3


  • ATGen, NKMax’s parent company, is publicly listed on KOSDAQ (Korean Securities Dealers Automated Quotations), a trading board of the Korea Exchange (KRX).
2015 KOSDAQ listed company


  • NK Vue, a natural killer cell activity diagnostic kit, is approved in Korea (2012) and subsequently in: Europe (CE Mark 2014); Canada (2014); Thailand (2017); Turkey (2017); Kazakhstan (2017); Indonesia (2017); Singapore (2018); Vietnam (2018).
2012 NK Vue Kit


  • ATGen launches its first commercial diagnostic kit, the H1N1 influenza test, allowing physicians to quickly and definitely identify the pandemic H1N1 virus in patients with flu-like symptoms.
2009 H1N1 kit


  • ATGen, NKMax’s parent company, is founded. ATGen develops a proprietary stabilizing peptide, monoclonal antibodies, and recombinant proteins for research use. NKMax now produces over 500 monoclonal antibodies and over 3,900 recombinant proteins, which are being sold worldwide.
2001 ATGenLogo