Press Release

HOME > Press Room > Press Release
IPK licenses out hepatitis C virus drug candidate to J2H Biotech 11.07.2016

IPK licenses out hepatitis C virus drug candidate to J2H Biotech
- The 15th licensing deal achievement of KDDF since 2011 -


Korea Drug Development Fund (KDDF), a government funding organization established by three health-related Korean ministries: the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, has transferred a total of 15 KDDF-funded technologies to domestic and foreign companies, thus demonstrating the competitiveness of its new drug R&D investment platform.


KDDF announced on October 31th that Institut Pasteur Korea (IPK) and J2H Biotech has signed an out-licensing agreement for a first-in-class hepatitis C virus (HCV) drug candidate. Under the agreement, IPK will collect 3.5 billion won upfront and 5% royalty on net income, when the product goes on sale.

With a 14-month financial support from KDDF, thiophene urea (TU) small molecule series was further refined to be an optimized Lead, and final optimization was completed in 2015.


In 2013, IPK screened small molecule compounds libraries with the infectious HCV cell culture system to discover novel viral interventions. The project resulted in identifying the TU compound series. TU inhibits HCV’s ability to enter into hepatocytes by targeting a viral protein, and it prevents cell-to-cell spread of the virus, thereby inhibiting the major route of HCV transmission in the liver.


Globally, more than 200 million people have chronic HCV infection, and a significant number of those who are chronically infected are under threat of this life-threatening liver disease. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C. The standard therapy of antiviral medicines can cure only 70 to 80% of patient with hepatitis C. Furthermore, their wider use is still restrictive in terms of serious side-effects and tremendous economic burden.


Since its establishment in 2009, KDDF has seen the number of successful technology transfers to 15 (overseas: 5, domestic: 10) in a number of therapeutic fields and at different development phases, valued at 5 trillion won.


“To make Korea a powerhouse of new drugs, it is necessary to make ceaseless investments in all preclinical and clinical phases as part of an effort to maximize the linkage of each development phase. In particular, this technology transfer is meaningful in that the infrastructure supporting clinical research may be connected to other development phase without being abandoned or delayed”, said Joo Sang-aun, CEO of KDDF.


Dr. Marc Windisch, Group Leader, IPK Hepatitis Research Laboratory, commented, “TU is ideal to prevent reinfection of graft in patients undergoing liver transplantation. I expect TU will help reduce the emergence of viral drug resistance, potentially minimize treatment periods, and ultimately reduce the cost of therapy.”