“Original technologies are important for national development. We will develop original anticancer drugs to help Korea become a holder of original technologies in conquering cancer.”
Such audacious aspiration came from Kim Hong-yeoul, CEO of Haim Bio, a developer of anticancer treatments. The company was established in September 2011 as “Celgene Bio” and changed the name to Haim Bio in 2015.
The pharmaceutical company is particularly focusing on developing so-called “fourth-generation anticancer drug with metabolism control.” The platform technology controls the metabolism of cancer cells to starve and kill them.
|Haim Bio CEO Kim Hong-yeoul poses for a photo during an interview with Korea Biomedical Review.|
Observers expect that anticancer treatments with metabolism control could replace conventional anticancer drugs by reducing side effects and boosting therapeutic effects. Investors’ anticipation for the new drug has already been reflected in the stock market.
Shares of Haim Bio, a non-listed firm, traded at 11,000 won ($9.6) per share on the trading site of non-listed companies’ shares as of Friday. The price was the second most high among those of biotech peers.
Korea Biomedical Review met with Kim to find more about the company’s new anticancer drug and its path to the future.
Question: What does Haim Bio do?
Answer: Haim Bio is a biotech venture firm that researches and develops anticancer medicines that control the metabolism of cancer cells. We own the original technology to starve and kill only cancer cells, without affecting healthy cells, through 100 percent transfer of the technology from National Cancer Center and Yonsei University Severance Hospital. The company is conducting a preclinical trial.
Q: You call the new anticancer drug “fourth generation.” Can you elaborate?
A: First-generation anticancer treatments have a mechanism that attacks and destroys cancer cells with toxicity. During the process, the mechanism attacks normal cells as well, causing side effects such as a declined function of bone marrow, gastrointestinal disorder, and hair loss.
Second-generation drugs are targeted anticancer treatments, but their efficacy could be limited due to drug resistance. Third-generation anticancer drugs are called immunotherapies, which can cause immune disturbance and excessive progress.
The fourth-generation metabolism anticancer drug (NYH817100), under development by Haim Bio, blocks the energy metabolism of cancer cells. The experimental drug applies to the characteristics of metabolism that all kinds of malignant tumors have in common, rather than to particular cancer type.
Thus, the company hopes that the new therapy could be effective in almost all cancer.
Q: What kind of efficacy did the investigational drug show?
A: After we administered NYH817100 to a tumor mouse model that had a xenograft with an actual lung cancer cell line, we observed the death of cancer cells. A glioblastoma model showed the same effect as the lung cancer model, and the cancer cell’s infiltration ability also declined.
After administering NYH817100 to an animal model that had a xenograft with lung cancer cell line A549, the experimental therapy inhibited adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by more than 50 percent. Also, it significantly blocked the proliferation and infiltration of cancer cells.
Q: You said the drug was effective in almost all kinds of cancer. Then, is it a platform technology?
A: As the drug involves in the metabolism of cancer cells, it is showing efficacy in various carcinomas. It is a part of the platform technology, but we plan to target diseases and obtain approval in the commercialization stage.
We are starting with targeting four kinds of solid cancer – brain cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, and gastric cancer. Except for gastric cancer, the three are rare cancer, which could allow us to win approval a little faster. We are thinking about seeking conditional approval. For the remaining types of cancer, we plan to expand indications.
Q: You’re conducting a preclinical trial. When do you plan to start clinical studies?
A: After various document preparations and internal reviews, we can complete the preclinical study in February next year. We will be probably able to start the phase-1 test in May or June. By the third quarter of 2020, we think we will complete the phase-1 study. During this stage, we plan to conduct trials in the U.S. and Europe. We aim to begin global phase-1 trials in the third or fourth quarter of 2019.
Q: You are also preparing for going public. How is it progressing?
A: Korea Investment & Securities is the lead underwriter of the initial public offering. We recently had outside auditing on accounting, and the audit is to continue through 2019 or 2020. Korean Investment & Securities has completed due diligence. We will get feedback on the data that we had submitted in November. Then, the IPO preparations will begin in earnest. We plan to go public not only on the local stock market but NASDAQ. We could enter the global market in various ways including swapping shares with an international drugmaker.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: The Korean science community is poorly equipped. In the biotech and medical sector, the situation is worse. For schools, it is too difficult to buy a device. Since there is almost no basic equipment such as fire alarms, it is very demanding for a research institute to study properly.
If Haim Bio grows large enough, I hope to make a research institute where researchers can conduct experiments as they wish. If researchers leave Korea due to the outdated equipment, original technologies might slip into foreign countries.
Rather than seeking profits only, I wish my company could help Korea become a holder of first anticancer drugs to conquer cancer and offer research labs where researchers could conduct a stable and lively study.
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