Korean pharmaceutical companies rush to protect LNP technology

Korean pharmaceutical companies are competing to develop lipid nanoparticle (LNP) drug delivery technology, each using a different strategy.

Those actively pursuing the development of LNP are Daewoong Pharmaceutical, Dong-A Socio Holdings, GC Biopharma and Yuhan Corp.

Korean drug manufacturers are rushing to develop lipid nanoparticle (LNP) drug delivery technology.

LNP is a key drug delivery system for mRNA-based drug development. The technology attracted a lot of attention when drug manufacturers developed Covid-19 mRNA vaccines using LNP.

On Wednesday, Daewoong Pharmaceutical said it had selected LNP as a promising drug development technology for the future, announcing its goal of becoming a global leader in drug development technology by 2030.

To protect LNP technology, Daewoong said it will actively push for open collaboration.

Although Daewoong has so far had no joint research or licensing agreement for the LNP technology, it will seek a partnership with a company that owns the LNP technology, Daewoong said.

Daewoong plans to use LNP to discover new indications or develop new forms of drugs.

More specifically, the company aims to develop a “selective organ targeting LNP” to target specific organs such as the lung or brain and to try out various new forms of drugs such as oral administration and ocular injection.

Daewoong also said it would improve the physical properties of the drugs to increase the safety of LNP and make the drugs easy to store for a long time.

Dong-A Socio Holdings has taken swift steps to work on LNP technology since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ST Pharm, an affiliate of Dong-A Socio Group, signed an agreement with the Ewha Womans University Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation to jointly develop an LNP technology in March last year.

Under the agreement, ST Pharm Vice President Yang Joo-sung and Professor Lee Hyuk-jin of Ewha University College of Pharmacy will develop LNP technology.

ST Pharm will fully cover the two-year development cost. After the development, the company and the university will jointly apply for the intellectual property right for the LNP technology.

Through joint research with Professor Lee, ST Pharm will utilize novel LNP technology for drug development and CDMO (contract development and manufacturing organization) activities.

In April, GC Biopharma began its journey to develop an LNP technology. The company has signed a development and option agreement with Acuitas Therapeutics, a Canada-based LNP developer, to license the latter’s LNP technology.

GC Biopharma will use up to four Acuitas Therapeutics proprietary LNP technologies to develop vaccines or mRNA treatments.

Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, also used Acuitas’ LNP technology.

Yuhan also said on June 7 that he had agreed with a research group of Professor Lee Joo-youp of the University of Cincinnati to develop a new LNP-sourced technology. The new technology aims to increase mRNA delivery to targeted tissues.

The University of Cincinnati research team noted that it would secure the patentability of a new substance and use it to increase delivery efficiency. Researchers have limited access to currently commercialized LNP technologies due to patents held by some companies.

Using a new mRNA structure and new LNP source technology, Yuhan plans to develop immunotherapy that regulates the function of immune cells.

In the LNP development process, the company will consider synergy effects with other immunotherapy pipelines.

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