Korean pharmaceutical and biotech companies have eagerly going after the burgeoning human microbiome market.
The human microbiome refers to the spectrum of microbes that colonize the human body. Research on the human microbiome is important for its medical impact, and some microbiome-based therapies have already demonstrated life-saving potential beyond cosmetics and health supplement applications.
Established pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms in Korea are upping the ante in the sector where commercially available microbiome drugs are yet to be perfected.
Therapeutic areas for investigational microbiome treatments are dominated by digestive system (52 cases), infection (46 cases), immunity (20 cases), dermatology (15 cases), metabolic system (12 cases), central nervous system (10 cases), respiratory system (10 cases), heredity (8 cases), musculoskeletal system (4 cases).
In Korea, Ko Biolabs is ahead of peers with its Phase 2 study to evaluate its microbiome drug to treat psoriasis. Genome & Company is conducting a Phase 1 study in patients with solid cancer and preparing to launch a Phase 2 for gastric cancer in the second half of this year. The company recently drew attention for its acquisition of U.S. microbiome CDMO company List Labs for 31.8 billion won ($26.8 million). CKD Bio is also developing a microbiome-based treatment for liver and kidney disease. The company already established a bank of gut microbes in 2017 in cooperation with Seoul National University.
CJ CheilJedang acquired a 44 percent stake in Chunlab, a Korean microbiome startup, for 98.3 billion won in July. CJ CheilJedang aims to develop next-generation novel drug technology by combining its own microorganism, strain, and fermentation technologies with Chunlab’s microbial data analysis and basic research capabilities.
Amicogen dedicated to lactic acid bacteria business acquired a 30 percent stake in microbiome drug developer Bifido for 60.1 billion won in July.
Yuhan Corporation invested 40 billion won last year to purchase a 30 percent stake in local microbiome CMO Mediogen, while Macrogen created a new microbiome business division in the first half of this year.
A global leader in microbiome-based clinical research is U.S. Seres Therapeutics that made a success in the world’s first Phase 3 study for infectious enteritis.
The global microbiome-related market is expected to grow to $93.5 billion this year from $81.1 billion in 2019 and to $108.7 billion in 2023, according to market research firm Frost & Sullivan.
By Kim Si-gyun and Minu Kim
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