Bill Gates Foundation to finance research projects by S. Korean companies

By Lim Chang-won Posted : May 18, 2020, 09:17 Updated : May 25, 2020, 08:14

[Xinhua News Agency / Yonhap]

SEOUL -- Two South Korean companies will receive money from the Bill & Melinda Foundation, casually known as Bill Gates Foundation, for their research projects to develop a coronavirus vaccine or a prediction model on infectious diseases.

SK Bioscience said it would receive $3.6 million from Bill Gates Foundation to find candidate materials for the COVID-19 vaccine. The company will coordinate with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) on how to utilize financial aid. CEPI is a foundation that takes donations to finance independent research projects to develop vaccines.

The Korea National Institute of Health, a state research body, has selected SK Bioscience as a cooperation partner for its project to develop preventive vaccines and medicine. SK Bioscience claimed to have secured a candidate for COVID-19 through the protein culture and refining platform of an antigen produced with gene recombination technology.

Bill Gates Foundation will also provide money to a three-year research project in South Korea to develop an epidemiological model that can predict the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 by using mobile communication data.

For its study that requires some 12 billion won, KT, a top telecom company in South Korea, has formed a consortium with Kim Woo-joo, a professor at Korea University College of Medine, the state-run Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) and two private tech companies -- Mobile Doctor and Mediblock.

Kim will be in charge of operating a monitoring system and analyzing pathogen gene sequences. KISTI is responsible for modeling flu inflows and trend prediction. Mobile Doctor will analyze app-based diagnosis data, while Mediblock will develop a blockchain-based data-sharing platform.

KISTI is looking for a drug candidate for the treatment of COVID-19 through ChemRxiv, an open-access preprint archive operated by the American Chemical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry and German Chemical Society.

KISTI joined hands with the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology, Seoul National University and Institut Pasteur Korea to find potential therapeutic agents that can suppress COVID-19 ribonucleic acid (RNA) cloning. RNA is a polymeric molecule essential in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes.

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