SK Holdings invests in biopharmaceutical firm

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SK Holdings invests in biopharmaceutical firm

SK Holdings has invested in a Singapore-based biopharmaceutical company, Hummingbird Bioscience, as the lead investor in a Series B funding round worth $25 million, SK said Monday.  

 
The Korean company declined to disclose its exact share in the funding. SK Holdings is the investing unit under the conglomerate, acquiring shares in ventures of emerging business fields like biopharmaceuticals and semiconductor materials.  
 
Among other investors in Hummingbird’s Series B funding were Singapore-based Heritas Capital Management and Singapore’s state-owned Seeds Capital.  
 
It’s the second time SK has invested in a biopharmaceutical venture that specializes in antibody drugs — treatments that send antibodies to accurately attach to proteins causing the sickness. The field is considered a prospective one, and many hope it will lead to potential cancer cures.   
 
Established in 2015 by former Sanofi researchers, Hummingbird Bioscience has created platform technology to identify target regions on proteins and develop antibodies that can attach to those specific regions.  
 
This technology can greatly reduce the trials required to find the best antibody for a cure, SK said. In the past, that process required injecting a wide variety of antibodies into animals multiple times until researchers were able to find the most effective option.  
 
SK said the technology has massive potential to speed the development of new drug candidates and minimize the number of trials to narrow down the best cure.  
 
Hummingbird has raised research funding from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas and Cancer Research UK. Research institutes rarely offer funding for a new drug candidate in the clinical trial stage, SK said, pointing to the investments as evidence of Hummingbird’s potential in the bio industry.  
 
In October 2019, SK also participated in the $75 million Series B funding for Harbour BioMed, which develops antibodies to cure cancer and autoimmune diseases.  
 
The Korean conglomerate explained the investments are part of an “open innovation” strategy to collaborate with other emerging companies in the sector — which the company views as having a high potential for growth. SK Holdings owns a 100 percent stake in SK Biopharmaceuticals, a bio company that develops new drugs for epilepsy and sleep apnea.
 
BY SONG KYOUNG-SON   [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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