Celltrion said Thursday that it has signed an “incubation” agreement with Emory University in Atlanta to support the research and development of new drug candidates for atherosclerosis.
Incubation agreement is an open innovation measure where a company provides its internal resources and capabilities, such as research space and facility, workforce and business operation consulting, to an external research institute or startup. The accord is to support the research and ensure the autonomy of the research aimed at developing new drugs or next-generation technology, on the condition that the company can preferentially discuss commercialization of the research output.
Under the agreement, Celltrion will share its accumulated biologics development expertise with Emory University School of Medicine and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology, and provide research costs and manufacturing materials of new drug candidates for atherosclerosis.
Celltrion will have a preferential right to acquire a license for inventions resulting from the agreement.
Atherosclerosis is a vascular disease, in which blood vessels narrow or clog due to plaque made up of fat, cholesterol, immune cells and vascular wall cells in the blood vessel. Such symptoms can result in ischemic heart diseases, stroke and peripheral arterial disease.
Ischemic heart disease and stroke are the world's leading causes of death, accounting for a combined 15.2 million deaths worldwide in 2016.
As of now, statins, which lower cholesterol and lipid levels in the blood, is the most conventional treatment in alleviating the onset and progression of atherosclerosis. Despite the success of lipid-lowering drugs, atherosclerotic diseases continue to be the primary cause of death worldwide, the company said.
Such problems highlight the need to develop new drugs that can complement the lipid-lowering medications by targeting new mechanisms of action to prevent and reduce the risk of atherosclerotic diseases, it added.
“The company is delighted to be able to cooperate with the research team of Professor Jo Han-joong of Emory University, which has world-class research capabilities in cardiovascular diseases,” a company official said.
Based on the new drug development incubation contract, Celltrion plans to acquire more new drugs and technologies and hope that more research institutes and companies will be interested in such open innovation, he added.
Celltrion recently announced plans to expand into the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) business, which commissions and develops biopharmaceuticals, as part of its open innovation for new drug development.
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