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Celltrion, Mirae to take largest stake in UK biotech firm

To secure antibody-drug conjugates from Iksuda Therapeutics

By Jun 07, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Celltrion, Mirae to take largest stake in UK biotech firm

South Korean biosimilar maker Celltrion Inc. and Mirae Asset Group have agreed to an investment that will render them the top shareholder in Iksuda Therapeutics, a UK-based developer of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), for $47 million.

Celltrion expects the investment to expand its cancer drug pipeline beyond blood cancer treatment Truxima and breast cancer medication Herzuma. Iksuda has four ADC-based biopharmaceutical drugs in preclinical development, including for B-cell lymphomas. 

Celltrion and Mirae Asset have together executed half of their agreed investment in the UK biotech firm, and will make the remaining payments after pre-agreed development milestones are reached, Celltrion said on June 7. They did not disclose their ownership details of Iksuda Therapeutics.

Mirae Asset Group's units -- Mirae Asset Securities Co., Mirae Asset Capital Co., Mirae Asset Venture Investment Co. -- and Premier Partners, a Seoul-based VC firm, took part in the deal as investors.

Celltrion has been running a 150 billion won ($135 million) VC fund with Mirae Asset to invest in new growth opportunities.

"This stake investment will create synergy with our antibody treatments and add next-generation anticancer drugs to our pipeline," said a Celltrion official.  

The biosimilar maker entered the ADC space in 2019 when it inked a deal with iProgen Biotech, an Indian biotech startup, to develop ADCs.

ADC is a next-generation technology designed to specifically target cancer cells. The Celltrion official added that ADC-based treatments qualify for fast-track drug development because most of them are designated for rare diseases or are otherwise innovative drugs. 

Last year, Iksuda Therapeutics adopted the ADC platform technology and an ADC candidate for hematological tumors from South Korea's LegoChem Biosciences Inc. in license agreements.

Celltrion controls more than half the biosimilar market of Janssen's Remicade in Europe, with its monoclonal antibody biosimilar Remsima. 

Going forward, Celltrion plans to develop its own ADC technologyy for new medications to expand its offerings.

Write to Yena Kim at

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.
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