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ImmuneOncia to develop immunotherapy drug

Aug 20,2019
ImmuneOncia, a joint venture between Yuhan and U.S. biotechnology company Sorrento Therapeutics, has been selected by the Korea Drug Development Fund to develop an immune therapy targeting a cancer-aiding protein.

The joint venture announced in a statement Monday that it was awarded financial support last week to develop cancer immunotherapy IMC-002 to attack CD47, a protein that helps cancer cells evade attacks from immune cells.

Under the deal, ImmuneOncia will be provided with a year’s worth of research funds to push for the Phase 1 clinical trial. The amount of funding was not revealed.

The company plans to use the funding to continue development of IMC-002 and pursue technology export deals and clinical trial cooperation with other biopharmaceutical companies. If successful, IMC-002 will be able to suppress growth of blood cancer and solid cancer, the company said.

The Korea Drug Development Fund, which is providing support for ImmuneOncia on its second anti-cancer therapy, is a government-initiated drug development program launched in September 2011 that provides support for local biopharmaceutical companies in their R&D projects.

It is a consortium of the Ministry of Science and ICT; the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy; and the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

“The support from the Korea Drug Development Fund has provided us a basis to conduct the first clinical trial for cancer immunotherapy targeting CD47 in Korea,” said Chang Sook-kyung, a project leader at ImmuneOncia.

“By developing this new drug along with PD-L1-targeting cancer immunotherapy awaiting Phase 2 clinical trial in Korea, we will expand our efforts to provide new therapies for patients with rare incurable cancer.”

ImmuneOncia was established in 2016 as a joint venture of Yuhan, Korea’s largest pharmaceutical company by revenue, and Sorrento Therapeutics, an anti-body focused biopharmaceutical company based in San Diego.

The company previously secured 43.5 billion won ($36 million) in investment from Paratus Investment in February this year and completing phase 1 clinical trial for its first anti-cancer drug candidate IMC-001.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]