Samsung Bioepis
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Samsung Enters the Rare Disease Innovation Market

As of 2019, Samsung is South Korea’s largest corporation and the second-highest revenue earner globally. To expand its pharmaceutical branch, Samsung is entering the gene-editing field.

The move comes as other competitors take the lead in other technologies, such as AI. The electronics giant now hopes that gene editing will become its future cash cow, a revenue stream it believes will overtake the company’s main biobusinesses: contract manufacturing and biosimilars, treatments for chronic skin and bowel diseases.

Earlier this year (2024), Samsung Bioepis Co., a biosimilar development subsidiary of the corporation, began a new drug development company business with a focus on developing a faster pipeline to bring gene therapy treatments to market. Subsequently, it entered the preclinical stages for multiple potential gene therapy candidates, all of which target rare diseases.

Gene therapy treatments, such as CRISPR, can treat, cure, and prevent diseases by replacing mutated genes with healthy ones.

The company aims to file an investigational new drug (IND) application next year to begin phase 1 clinical trials to target rare diseases, including liver and metabolic illnesses.

The company also plans to develop new drugs using antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).

Samsung Bioepis

The new venture will not come easy, though, as a company spokesperson noted:

“Unlike chips, smartphones and home appliances which tend to pay off after investing in research and development, new drug development takes more than 10 years and a significant amount of capital. Furthermore, the success rate is less than 10%,”

Samsung had considered buying up new drug developers but instead transitioned to making its own, which will undoubtedly broaden the company’s opportunities to earn more revenue.

The conglomerate has prepared 170 billion won for new drug development from its Samsun Life Science Fund, a subsidiary co-created by the group’s holding firm Samsung C&T Corp., Samsung Biologics, and Samsung Bioepis.

The fund includes US biotechs Jaguar Gene Therapy and BrickBio. Plans for the second quarter of this year include investing in US gene therapy developer Latus Bio.

Samsung Bioepis has developed seven commercialized biosimilars in autoimmune, oncology, ophthalmology, and hematology. It has conducted 28 global clinical trials, among the largest for any Asian drug developer outside of Japan.

Last year, Samsung Bioepis reported $1 trillion in revenue and $205.4 million in operating profit. It hopes the synergy between the new gene editing and existing projects can help gene therapy drugs be mass-produced and brought to market more easily.

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