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Daewoong, Avacta to establish joint venture

Lee Han-soo  Published 2020.01.08  12:25  Updated 2020.01.08 12:25

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Daewoong Pharmaceutical said that it plans to set up a joint venture (JV) with Avacta, a U.K. pharmaceutical company focusing on protein therapeutics.

Daewoong headquarters in Samsung-dong, southern Seoul.

The two companies will work together to develop drugs to treat immune diseases based on cell therapy platforms through the joint venture. Daewoong CEO Jeon Seng-ho will serve as the CEO of the joint venture. The new company will research functional stem cells and develop therapeutics based on their existing technologies.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical plans to license out its mesenchymal stem cell technology to the joint venture, and Avacta will do so with its target-specific Affimer technology.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical's stem cell platform (DW-MSC) is a mesenchymal stem cell-derived from embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Unlike the existing adult tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells, which have a limited number of cultures, the cells can be mass-produced. While long-term culturing is required to introduce therapeutic genes into stem cells, the company’s platform can maximize stem cell efficacy through gene introduction.

Avacta's Affimer technology is a protein therapeutics platform based on a naturally occurring protein in the body called Stefin A. The Affimer protein is an antibody-like protein with characteristics similar to that of an antibody. It has about one-tenth the size of a conventional antibody. Therefore, the technology has a significant advantage in tissue penetration.

“The establishment of the joint venture between the two companies is a milestone in the open collaboration business that Daewoong Pharmaceutical has been promoting for a long time,” Daewoong CEO Jeon Seng-ho said. “By combining Avacta's Affimer technology with Daewoong's stem cell technology, we will be able to develop a new non-antibody protein-type therapeutic paradigm that can overcome the limitations of existing antibody-based therapies.”

Avacta CEO Alastair Smith also said, “We are delighted to combine the Affimer platform with Daewoong's stem cell technology. The establishment of a joint venture with Daewoong will be an important opportunity for developing innovative medicines to treat immune-mediated diseases.”

Avacta will work closely with Daewoong Pharmaceuticals to provide superior medicines to patients who need such treatments, Smith added.

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