SK Biopharm, hospital link on cancer therapy

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SK Biopharm, hospital link on cancer therapy

SK Biopharmaceuticals signed a partnership with a local hospital’s cancer research body on Thursday, taking its first step into the cancer market.

A joint research team from the Korean biopharma company and Samsung Medical Center’s Institute for Refractory Cancer Research will co-develop new drug treatments for brain tumors over the next three years.

While SK Biopharm, a subsidiary of SK Holdings, has been focusing on treatments for central nervous system diseases for more than 20 years, it will utilize the institute’s preclinical testing system to develop a new drug against refractory cancer, which can’t be treated with regular treatments.

Patients with refractory cancer like malignant brain tumors have little chance of surviving even with existing surgeries, radiation therapy and medication.

“We are positive our hospital’s own preclinical evaluation system called Avatar Scan could accelerate development of the new treatment,” said Kwon O-jung, CEO of Samsung Medical Center. The scanner uses cancer patients’ stem cells to provide personalized clinical trials in cancer therapy, according to the hospital.

The joint research team will test chemical compounds with higher cerebral membrane penetration rate than existing treatments for tumors, the company said in a statement.

The market to treat brain tumors is expected to grow to $3.3 billion by 2024, according to pharmaceutical market research company GlobalData. To capture a large piece of the pie of the expanding market, SK Biopharm will increase portfolios of cancer treatment and export therapies once clinical testing proves successful.

“This joint research is the beginning of SK Biopharm’s anticancer business and through active cooperation, we aim to achieve our global vision of growing into a global biopharmaceutical company,” said Cho Dae-sik, CEO of SK Holdings.

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