Toolgen said Friday that it would develop a chronic hepatitis B treatment using its genome-editing tool, called Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR).
The announcement comes after the “Korea Bio Grand Challenge,” a project sponsored by the Ministry of Science and ICT, selected the company as one of its participants.
The Korea Bio Grand Challenge is part of the “Bio-Economy Initiative 2025” project announced last year by the government, which aims to enable young researchers to carry new innovative research. The government plans to invest a total of 40.5 billion won ($38.1 million) for nine years.
If they succeed in developing the treatment, Toolgen will receive a maximum of 8.2 billion won during the project.
The company plans to work with Professor Lee Hyuk-jin of Ewha Womans University and Professor Jang Jung-won of the Catholic University of Medicine in developing a treatment for chronic hepatitis B using its CRISPR technology.
As more than 350 million people are suffering from the currently incurable chronic hepatitis B, which can also lead to other illnesses such as liver cirrhosis or liver cancer, the company expects that a treatment for the disease will have a high preemption effect in the market.
“Genetic scissors technology can develop fundamental therapeutics of diseases that have not been possible until now,” said Lee Jung-min, head researcher for the project and director of Toolgen’s research lab. “Through this national project, we will develop a gene-editing treatment for chronic hepatitis B, which has no fundamental treatment, and preempt the related therapeutic market.”
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