Dr. Christopher Gallen, CEO and President of SK Biopharmaceuticals, said, “While focused on the disorders and mechanisms of the nervous system, the powerful SK Biopharmaceuticals Third Wave discovery platform creates compounds that are also relevant to diseases in other body systems, in this case, the eye. Through this agreement, both companies can realize a creative drug development process by sharing R&D capabilities, know-how, and experiences.”
Dr. Soo-Hyun Sung, CEO and President of AriBio, said, “This agreement recognizes AriBio’s capabilities in drug discovery and development for ophthalmologic disorders. Also, it is an excellent example of collaboration between a medium-sized venture company and a major conglomerate.”
SK Biopharmaceuticals has discovered this innovative drug candidate and has evaluated its potential in animal models with AriBio since 2012. The animal experiments showed that SKL-G successfully prevented optic nerve cell death and, in addition, lowered intraocular pressure that is one of the major causes of glaucoma.
Most currently-marketed glaucoma drugs have only symptomatic treatment effects, lowering intraocular pressure, but they fail to address the disease process itself, eventually resulting in blindness. Thus fundamental therapies that can prevent optic nerve cell death represent an enormous unmet medical need.
Because the evaluation results fully supported the competitive advantage of SKL-G over existing therapies, the decision was made to form a strategic alliance for preclinical and clinical development.
SK biopharmaceuticals and AriBio have agreed to complete preclinical development shortly and then start clinical trials following an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to US FDA. They are also considering various strategic options for partnering and commercialization.
The market size for glaucoma treatments is estimated to be over $3 billion in 2010, and the market might be quite larger if other ophthalmology disorders such as age-related macular degeneration are considered.