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20.12.07 [JW Pharmaceutical] JW Pharmaceutical and Voronoi is co-developing next-generation innovative new drugs in anticancer field

- PROTAC, a protein degradation technology, applied to STAT3 target anticancer drug candidates

- Strategy to proactively secure next-generation anticancer drugs with global competitiveness

December of 2020

JW pharmaceutical is cooperating with Voronoi, a bio-venture, to develop next-generation anticancer drugs.

JW Pharmaceutical announced on the 3rd that it singed a “Co-development Agreement for STAT3 Protein Degrader” with Voronoi on the 2nd to develop a global anticancer drug that combines core technologies of both companies.

In this project, Voronoi’s proprietary protein degradation technology, Protein Degrader (hereinafter PROTAC, Proteolysis-targeting chimera), is applied to STAT3 target small molecule anticancer drug candidates being developed by JW Pharmaceutical to develop next-generation innovative new drugs with global competitiveness.

Voronoi will be in charge of designing, synthesizing, and deriving clinical candidates through cooperation with JW Pharmaceutical. Meanwhile, JW Pharmaceutical plans to conduct translational clinical research that advances the evaluation of candidates to the clinical stage.

STAT3 is a protein (transcription factor) that promotes the expression of a number of genes involved in cancer cell growth, proliferation, metastasis, and drug resistance formation. JW Pharmaceutical has discovered candidates for innovative new drugs with a new mechanism that inhibits STAT3 and is currently conducting non-clinical trials and drug production research for commercialization.

Voronoi is significantly shortening the development period compared to competitors by combining artificial intelligence (AI) into the entire process of new drug development, from designing and synthesizing the compound to derivation of clinical candidates. In addition, it also has PROTAC technology, a platform for developing new drugs based on small molecular compounds that induce protein degradation. PROTAC is a next-generation technology that is expected to overcome the disadvantages of not being able to control specific proteins or developing resistance in long-term administration as in existing target anticancer agents. 

JW Pharmaceutical and Voronoi chose this strategic open innovation to proactively secure next-generation pipelines that maximizes anticancer efficacy.

Seong-Yeol Lee, CEO of JW Pharmaceutical said, “Recently, the preoccupation competition for target proteins and candidate compounds is fierce for the development of PROTAC based new drugs with number of global pharmaceutical companies as the center.“ He also said, “We will continue to expand our pipeline and strengthen our R&D capabilities through research cooperation with Voronoi, which has its own protein degradation technology and excellent research capabilities.”

Dae-Kwon Kim, CEO of Voronoi said, “We are attempting an open innovation that is meaningful in the field of PROTAC, the next-generation new drug development technology.” He also said, “We expect to achieve favorable results by combining STAT3 new drug development know-how of JW Pharmaceutical with AI drug development platform and PROTAC technology of Voronoi.”

► About ‘Open Innovation Strategy’ by JW Pharmaceutical

JW Pharmaceutical has been focusing on first-in-class studies after establishing a Total Research Center in 1983 and a C&C New Drug Research Center in 1992. Through various research technologies including global-level core technology platforms (JWELY, CLOVER), new drug pipelines have been built, focusing on anticancer and immune diseases.JW Pharmaceutical is actively pursuing new research cooperation models and discovering promising external projects based on its own technology. Through this, it secures a follow-up R&D pipeline using new domestic and overseas platforms, and invests in next-generation research fields related to precision medicine and the 4th industry along with promoting networks of key expert groups in each field.

► About STAT3, a target anticancer drug, by JW Pharmaceutical

In last June, JW Pharmaceutical acquired rights to all related substances such as ST-2286 (code name) targeting STAT3 discovered at the C&C New Drug Research Center, a subsidiary of JW Pharmaceutical, and started commercialization. STAT3 is a protein (transcription factor) that promotes the expression of a number of genes involved in cancer cell growth, proliferation, metastasis, and drug resistance formation. ST-2286 is an innovative drug candidate with a novel mechanism that inhibits STAT3 and targets various solid cancers as indications. According to the results of preclinical trial evaluation conducted by C&C New Drug Research Center, ST-2286 showed excellent selectivity for STAT3 and also showed higher efficacy and safety compared to conventional standard therapy in various solid carcinomas with STAT3 activity as a biomarker. JW Pharmaceutical is conducting non-clinical studies and drug production studies on STAT3 targeting anticancer drugs with the aim of commencing phase 1 clinical trial in 2023.

► About R&D strategy of Voronoi

Voronoi Co., Ltd., located in Bio Cluster at Songdo, Incheon, is a company with global competitiveness in the field of precision medicine targeted treatments. Rarely among domestic bio venture, it has all the capabilities from initial discovery of new drug candidates (pipelines) to clinical development. In addition, the development period has been dramatically shortened by combining artificial intelligence (AI) into the entire process of new drug development. With the development of anticancer (lung cancer, breast cancer, brain cancer, etc.) and autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, atopy, etc.) treatments, the company is focusing on Protein Degrader, the next-generation technology. Voronoi has developed three pipelines in 2017, the second year of its establishment, and has recently increased the number of pipelines to seven. It is currently negotiating licensing out (L/O) with a number of domestic and overseas pharmaceutical companies regarding the core pipelines. Voronoi has recently been recognized for its technology development capability by licensing out (L/O) non-small cell lung cancer treatment to ORIC Pharmaceutical, a NASDAQ-listed company, at KRW 700 billion.

► About PROTAC technology by Voronoi

Protein Degrader, also known as PROTAC, is a new concept of drug development platform that removes target protein using the in vivo protein degradation system. PROTAC is composed of a target protein binder, an E3 ligase binder, and a linker. Eventually, for PROTAC to work, the stability of the three-dimensional structure of the target protein-PROTAC-E3 ligase binder, they type of target protein and E3 ligase, and the length of the linker play an important role.Voronoi has the technology to identify the structure of the target protein and built a new E3 ligase platform. Voronoi is also minimizing the development period by creating a platform that can synthesize PROTAC materials by predicting the three-dimensional structure and length of the linker using artificial intelligence (AI). Researchers who have applied for patents and published papers related to PROTAC for the first time in Korea through joint research with the Harvard Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the United States are rapidly developing PROTAC technology of Voronoi.