Tue. Jul 16th, 2019

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Singapore research and health institutes ink agreement with Republic of Korea’s C&C Research Laboratories to develop innovative drugs

4 min read
  • This multi-institutional effort draws upon deep capabilities in skin research and cancer biology from Singapore and the Republic of Korea.
  • Focused on innovative drug discovery research for inflammatory immune diseases and cancers, including skin disorders and cancer stem cell research.
  • C&C Research Laboratories’ first global open innovation project and first collaborative project for innovative drug discovery research between the Korean pharmaceutical industry and Singapore.
  • This collaboration aims to develop novel therapeutics in just 3 years.

Singapore – Scientists and clinicians from Singapore institutes are collaborating with C&C Research Laboratories, a leading research institute from the Republic of Korea (ROK), to develop innovative drugs. The collaboration aims to address diseases of significant clinical burden, namely inflammatory skin disorders and major cancers including colorectal and liver cancers, through R&D in areas such as cancer stem cell research.

C&C Research Laboratories was established by JW Pharmaceutical from the Republic of Korea and Chugai Pharmaceutical (a member of Roche group) in Japan. The company specialises in the development of novel therapeutics for many indications such as arrhythmia, inflammation, oncology and metabolic diseases.

In Singapore, this multi-party effort involves A*STAR’s Skin Research Institute of Singapore (SRIS), Institute of Medical Biology (IMB), Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), and, together with the National Skin Centre (NSC).

This partnership is the latest between A*STAR and Korean companies and institutions, and follows the opening of A*STAR’s joint laboratory with Samsung Medical Center in May 2018.

The partnership is focused on two areas: inflammatory skin disorders and drug-resistant cancers.

Singapore has one of the world’s highest burden of skin diseases1. Inflammatory skin disorders, such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and urticarial, can have a significant impact on the quality of life for patients. There has been little innovation to treat these conditions, and many of the available therapies provide only symptomatic relief and do not always work. There is great need to develop new drugs to improve treatment of skin diseases.

Colorectal and liver cancer are among the top 4 cancers in Singapore that lead to deaths, affecting both men and women2. When it comes to treatments, liver cancer resists most chemotherapeutic drugs. These drugs shrink only a small portion of tumours and the responses often do not last long3.

This collaboration between Singapore and ROK will use unique in vitro and animal models of atopic dermatitis, robust cancer organoid models, expertise in skin and cancer biology and state-of-the art equipment from A*STAR, together with clinical expertise and well-characterised cohorts of patients with skin disorders from NSC, to investigate and develop a collection of small molecule modulators from C&C Research Laboratories. The collaboration will evaluate the therapeutic potential of the small molecule modulators for the treatment of inflammatory skin diseases and a variety of cancers, and delineate their mechanisms of action. The aim is to identify novel biomarkers for patient identification and stratification, and develop innovative therapeutics that will transform the ways these diseases are treated.

Perspectives on the Collaboration

“This partnership with C&C is yet another example of how researchers and companies from Singapore and Korea can come together in a complementary way, to develop new drugs to address important medical problems. The focus on skin diseases is particularly strategic, as this represents a great unmet medical need for which there has been little innovation over the past decade. We plan to make a difference very quickly,” said Dr Benjamin Seet, Executive Director of A*STAR’s Biomedical Research Council.

“Finding innovative new drugs has become intensively competitive and challenging for pharmaceutical companies. Some companies gain access to new technologies by directly purchasing them or acquiring them through merger & acquisition activities. However, having a strong foundation in science is critical for the long-term success of identifying targets and compounds. C&C believes that the collaboration schemes we have established with A*STAR, together with NSC, are the best ways to deliver clinical candidates more quickly and effectively,” said Dr Tatsumi Yamazaki, Co-Representative Director, C&C Research Laboratories.

“This agreement is meaningful because the Korea Bio-Venture Company has proposed a new global cooperation model that will create strong synergy through collaborative research with frontier research institutes from overseas public agencies. We will strengthen our strategic alliance, in line with our strategy, to take one step forward as Korea’s leading bio-venture in the field of immunology and anti-cancer drugs,” said Dr Chun Jae Kwang, Co-Representative Director, C&C Research Laboratories.

“As a clinical partner of this collaboration, NSC hopes to provide a better understanding of chronic inflammatory skin diseases in Singapore. With extensive research in the immunological aspects of these diseases, targeted therapies can be developed that will be impactful in the way we treat patients whose quality of life is significantly affected,” said Associate Professor Tan Suat Hoon, Director at National Skin Centre.

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