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Hanmi signs deal after series of big setbacks

Sept 18,2019

As it struggles to recover from a series of major setbacks, Hanmi Pharmaceutical has partnered with a U.S. biotech company to develop new drugs.

The Korean company announced in a statement Tuesday that it signed an agreement with Phanes Therapeutics to use one of San Diego-based company’s antibodies for development using the Pentambody, a bispecific antibody technology developed by Hanmi’s Chinese unit in 2017 for the purpose of creating immunotherapies and targeted therapies.

A bispecific antibody is a single construct combination of two or more antigen-recognizing elements that can tackle multiple pathways in curing a target disease. Phanes, founded in 2016, is known for developing therapeutics that treat solid tumors and eye diseases and is developing monoclonal antibodies.

As part of the agreement, Hanmi will have exclusive rights for research and development (R&D), production and commercialization of all cancer therapies it develops from the Phanes antibody.

“We expect to create an innovative immuno-oncology therapy by expanding the use of Pentambody in partnership with Phanes Therapeutics, a leading company in the immuno-oncology field,” Hanmi Pharmaceutical CEO Kwon Se-chang said.

“We will do our best to produce a globally innovative drug based on the partnership between the two companies.”

Hanmi has experienced a number of major setbacks in developing new drugs, and its share price has declined more than 50 percent in a year.

In 2016, Ingelheim am Rhein, Germany-based Boehringer Ingelheim canceled a collaboration that could have generated up to $730 million for the Korean drugmaker.

In January this year, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly returned the licensing rights back to it for a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, a deal which was worth $690 million.

Several months later in July, Beerse, Belgium-based Janssen Pharmaceutical nixed a $915 billion agreement made with Hanmi in November 2015.

It returned the development rights for an experimental drug targeting diabetes patients as its Phase 2 clinical trials had not yielded satisfactory results.

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