Korean firms target cancer treatments in acquisition

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Korean firms target cancer treatments in acquisition

CoImmune, a U.S. subsidiary of Genexine and SCM Lifescience, is acquiring an Italian pharmaceutical company in a bid to strengthen its immuno-oncology therapy development.

The subsidiary, formerly known as Argos Therapeutics, is acquiring all tangible and intangible assets of Formula Pharmaceuticals, the two Korean companies stated on Monday. The move will expand Colmmune’s research and development portfolio to include advanced renal cell carcinoma therapy, known as CMN-001, and an acute lymphoblastic leukemia treatment called CAR-CIK.

The two parent companies together invested 12.5 billion won ($10.8 million) in February last year to acquire Colmmune, which operates as an independent entity in the United States. SCM Lifescience holds a 51 percent stake, while Genexine holds the remaining shares.

The company will be taking the lead in conducting the Phase 2b trial for CMN-001 and Phase 1 trial for CAR-CIK. The study for CMN-001 is scheduled to start at five hospitals in the United States, and the initial human trial for CAR-CIK is being prepared in cooperation with Italy’s University of Milano-Bicocca and San Gerardo Hospital.

SCM Lifescience and Genexine said the two products are also in consideration to kick off clinical trials in Korea.

As part of the acquisition, investors of the combined entity will be pouring 6.9 billion won into the continued development of the CAR-CIK program. CAR-CIK has been touted by many as a next-generation treatment for its potential to be cheaper than current chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies, with fewer side effects.

CoImmune hopes to attract more investments from the United States and Europe for the CAR-CIK program in Monza, Italy.

“We are excited about the opportunity of bringing together two therapeutic immune-oncology platforms to maximize our clinical and commercial value as a result of merger,” said CoImmune CEO Charles Nicolette.

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

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