The 2020 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, the world’s largest healthcare investment symposium for the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, opened in San Francisco, the United States, on Jan. 13 (local time), with some 1,500 pharma companies from 40 countries around the world participating. About 30 Korean pharma firms are taking part in this global event to export their technologies and appeal to global investors.
Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co. has signed a collaborative research agreement with A2A Pharmaceuticals Inc. (A2A), a U.S.-based pharmaceutical company, for the development of oncology drugs, the company announced on Jan. 13 (local time). Under the collaboration, A2A will use its artificial intelligent (AI)-based drug discovery platform, called SCULPT, to design new compound structure, which will be synthesized and evaluated by Daewoong to select new drug candidates.
Daewoong explained that SCULPT can build a database of target-oriented chemical compounds by analyzing the structure of a target that induces cancer, and designing appropriate materials based on the analysis. The Korean company expected that this AI-driven platform would help discover the optimal oncology drug candidates and raise the chance of success in developing anti-cancer drugs.
SK Biopharmaceuticals Co. has independently developed anti-epileptic drug XCOPRI, which has finally won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. SK Biopharma is planning to advance into the European market within this year after earning approval from Europe. In addition, sleep disorder drug Sunosi (ingredient: solriamfetol) will be also released in the European market in the first half of 2020.
Jazz Pharmaceuticals, a global leader in sales of sleep disorder drugs, has licensed Sunosi technology from SK to develop and commercialize the drug. Bruce C. Cozadd, CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, announced that the approval for Sunosi by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected next week. “We will launch the treatment in the entire European market, starting from Germany,” Cozadd said. He emphasized that Sunosi is a crucial product for Jazz, adding that its annual sales will surpass US$500 million by 2025.
Korean bio pharmaceutical ventures have also rushed to join hands with global pharmaceutical companies. Genome & Co., which is developing oncology drugs using microbiome, announced on Jan. 13 that it has entered a clinical trial collaboration and supply agreement with Germany’s Merch and U.S. drug major Pfizer Inc. Under the agreement, Genome & Co. will initiate phase one clinical trial, in combination with Merch and Pfizer’s immuno-oncology therapy Bavencio and Genome’s GEN-001. Clinical trial is expected to commence in the United States during the first half of 2020.
Biogen, an American multinational biotechnology company, has completed phase three clinical trial for Alzheimer’s drug, called Aducanumab, and filed for FDA approval of the drug. “Demand for Alzheimer’s treatment is high,” said the venture company, adding, “The golden age of Biogen has just arrived.”
If Aducanumab is approved by the FDA, Samsung BioLogics is highly likely to win contract manufacturing orders (CMO) from Biogen. An Alzheimer’s treatment is required to be administered on a regular basis, meaning that a huge amount of it needs to be supplied. Manufacturers with enough production capacity, however, are globally limited to Lonza, BoehringerIngelheim and Samsung BioLogics.
AI is the main subject of the conference. A series of information technology (IT)-related seminars on deep learning and quantum physics are scheduled to be held. Nvidia, a manufacturer of graphics cards needed to implement AI technology, is planning to make a presentation on AI at the Grand Ballroom on Jan. 16. Besides Daewoong Pharmaceutical, another Korean AI-based drug development company, Syntekabio was invited to the JP Morgan conference.