With rising expectations for a rapid growth of gene therapy market, investors are paying attention to ToolGen, the local leader in the development of genome editing technologies.
The biotech company’s shares have jumped on such expectations this year.
The stock price of ToolGen went up to close at 50,000 won ($45.7) on Dec. 8, an 83 percent increase from 27,000 won on Jan. 2.
The market capitalization of ToolGen was 291.8 billion won as of Friday, ranking second after 347.9 billion won market cap of Enzychem Lifesciences, a manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients, on the small-cap only Korea New Exchange, or KONEX.
As Enzychem Lifesciences seeks to move to the tech-heavy Kosdaq, ToolGen is likely to lead the KONEX in market cap, observers said.
Genetic editing technology is expected to become more significant with the growth of gene therapy market.
“Out of the 1,094 registered rare diseases in Korea, 640 are caused by genetic mutations. We are facing an era where new therapies can be tested thanks to advanced gene editing technologies,” said Joo Ji-hyun, a professor at Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital’s rheumatology division, in a report to the Korea Health Industry Development Institute.
“Korea has a patent and research power in Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), a vital tool in gene correction treatments,” Joo said. “We need a state support for Korea to secure an upper hand in R&D competition in the gene therapies market where this technology will apply to treatments for patients with rare genetic diseases.”
ToolGen has applied for a patent in a gene-editing tool called CRISPR-Cas9 in 10 countries, including the U.S., Europe, and Japan. It recently completed the registration of the patent in Germany, after doing so in Korea and Australia last year.
In mid-2017, the company was selected by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and ICT to carry out a state project to develop biomedical technologies and research on stem cells. Under the project, ToolGen gets to combine genome-editing technologies with stem cell techniques to study treatments for hemophilia B and Huntington’s Disease.
The company aims to facilitate gene-editing technologies to work on various treatments for a range of genetic disorders.
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