The Korea Herald


GI Cell inks research agreement with Optieum Biotechnologies

By Lee Seung-ku

Published : Dec. 13, 2022 - 13:44

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Logos of GI Cell and Optieum Biotechnologies (GI Cell) Logos of GI Cell and Optieum Biotechnologies (GI Cell)

GI Cell, the cell therapy affiliate of South Korean pharmaceutical company GI Innovation, said Tuesday it has signed a research agreement with Japanese bio company Optieum Biotechnologies to study hematological tumors.

Hematological tumors refer to tumors that begin in the cells of the immune system or bone marrow.

According to the agreement, the Japanese bio company will provide its South Korean counterpart with single-chain variable fragment (ScFv) antibodies that target hematological tumors. ScFv antibodies are engineered blood proteins that counteract certain substances.

GI Cell will use the ScFv antibodies to carry out feasibility studies to further develop and commercialize chimeric antigen receptor natural killer (CAR-NK) cell products, which can be used to target and kill tumor cells.

The agreement also outlines terms for commercialization. Should GI Cell decide to exercise an option to pursue commercialization after conducting the feasibility studies, the Japanese company is entitled to an option-exercise fee, development and commercial milestone payments, and single-digit royalties on sales, according to the agreement.

“We are pleased to enter this collaboration with Optieum Biotechnologies as we continue unlocking the full potential of our NKPURE Expander® platform,” said CEO of GI CELL Chun Pyo-hong. “We look forward to evaluating the ScFv antibodies from Optieum Biotechnologies’ discovery platform, which have the potential to accelerate the development of our novel CAR-NK cells.”

“Optieum Biotechnologies’ strength in discovery of functional and improved ScFvs in conjunction with GI CELL’s expertise in NK cell engineering and manufacturing may lead to a generation of promising cellular immunotherapy for unmet medical needs,” said Shun Nishioka, CEO of Optieum Biotechnologies.