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Korean biotech firms flex muscles at J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : Jan. 9, 2024 - 11:47

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Attendees gather at the 42nd J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, taking place at The Westin St. Francis San Francisco in Union Square, Monday. (Kim Hae-yeon/The Korea Herald) Attendees gather at the 42nd J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, taking place at The Westin St. Francis San Francisco in Union Square, Monday. (Kim Hae-yeon/The Korea Herald)

Korea Herald Correspondent

SAN FRANCISCO -- A record number of Korean companies are set to deliver presentations to boast their latest biotechnologies at the 42nd J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, the largest event of its kind, which kicked off Monday in San Francisco.

This year, the number of Korean companies that received official invitations from the host increased to six from three last year. The presenters include Samsung Biologics, Celltrion, Yuhan Corp., Lotte Biologics, SK Biopharmaceuticals and Kakao Healthcare.

Samsung Biologics and Celltrion will present at the main conference venue, while the remaining four firms will share their visions during the Asia-Pacific session. Additionally, Hanmi Pharmaceutical, SK Bioscience and GI Innovation are invited to engage in one-on-one meetings.

"The reason why Korean companies are paying more attention to JPM (the conference) in recent years is that the conference has positioned as a cornerstone of global biotech business transactions," an industry source said. "Major companies are strategically eyeing the anti-cancer, metabolic, immune treatment sectors and more, intending to focus their efforts on securing potential global pipelines."

To run until Thursday, the invitation-only event is expected to bring together over 8,000 biotechnology investors, executives and analysts from more than 600 global companies.

Samsung Biologics, making its eighth consecutive appearance at the conference, will present the company’s midterm business plans on the second day. The firm's CEO John Rim will give a presentation on recent achievements, including the firm's super gap advantage in the global bio contract development and manufacturing market, as well as details about the upcoming fifth plant in Songdo, Incheon, set to be operational by April 2025.

On the third day, Celltrion Chairman Seo Jung-jin will take the podium to outline the company's strategy since the merger of Celltrion and Celltrion Healthcare on Dec. 28 last year. The presentation is expected to elaborate on Celltrion's transition into a new drug development company, strengthening its position in the field of biosimilars.

At the Asia-Pacific session, Yuhan Corp. will present its long-term strategy centered on Leclaza, its treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.

SK Biopharmaceuticals is set to promote its anti-seizure medication, Cenobamate, used for epilepsy patients, as well as introduce new growth engine sectors such as cell and gene therapies, targeted protein degradation and radiopharmaceutical therapy.

Kakao Healthcare aims to introduce its smartphone-based blood sugar management platform, which is scheduled for release in February.

The event has facilitated a score of deals for Korean firms seeking global partners.

After the conference held in 2022, Korean biotech company ABL Bio signed an exclusive collaboration and global licensing agreement with French multinational pharmaceutical Sanofi, to develop and commercialize ABL301, a candidate for treating Parkinson's disease, worth a total of $1.06 billion. In November 2018, also through the conference, Yunhan Corp. inked a licensing deal with Janssen Biotech for lazertinib, a non-small cell lung cancer drug candidate, for some $1.2 billion.