SK Biopharmaceuticals launches biotech company in China

By Lim Chang-won Posted : November 11, 2021, 16:04 Updated : November 11, 2021, 16:04

[Courtesy of SK Biopharmaceuticals]

SEOUL -- SK Biopharmaceuticals, affiliated with South Korea's third-largest conglomerate, launched a central nervous system-focused biotech company with investors led by 6 Dimensions Capital, a healthcare investment firm based in Shanghai, to establish a new drug development and commercialization platform in China.

SK Biopharmaceuticals said it would receive an upfront payment of $20 million and a milestone payment of $15 million, as well as royalties on net sales, for out-licensing six clinical compounds to the new company named "Ignis Therapeutics." The South Korean company will also obtain shares worth $150 million in Ignis.

SK Biopharmaceuticals said it has raised $180 million in Series A financing, led by 6 Dimensions Capital. "The launch of Ignis Therapeutics in China reaffirms our commitment to addressing unmet needs in CNS (central nervous system) disorders, and bringing care and novel therapies to patients anywhere in the world," SK Biopharmaceuticals CEO Cho Jeong-woo said in a statement on November 11.

Eileen Long, a former general manager of Sanofi China's CNS business unit, has been named as Ignis CEO. "By committing to developing therapeutic options with novel mechanisms of action, Ignis is transforming the approach to treating CNS conditions, and striving to become a leading global CNS company," she said.

Six clinical compounds out-licensed to Ignis included cenobamate, an anti-seizure medication that has been approved for marketing in the U.S. under the brand name of XCOPRI and ONTOZRY in Europe, as well as solriamfetol, which was approved in the United States for excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea in adult patients.

SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won has promised to nurture SK Biopharmaceuticals, which specializes in the development of drugs for the treatment of central nervous system disorders, as one of the group's new growth engines.

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