HONG KONG – Daejeon, South Korea-based biotechnology company G2GBIO Inc. has raised ₩11.4 billion (US$9.53 million) from a series B financing round, with the funds to be used on clinical trials for a sustained-release Alzheimer’s treatment as well as nonclinical trials for diabetes and sustained-release postoperative pain treatments.
Investors include Korea Investment Partners, Quad Investment Management, BNK Venture Capital Co. Ltd, Industrial Bank of Korea, Seoul Investment Partners, ARK Impact Asset Management and Emford Equity Partners.
“Although it was not easy to obtain financing at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we had as many IR meetings as possible, and kept our focus on our technology’s core value to investors,” G2GBIO’s managing director for business development, Soojung Lee, told BioWorld.
Industrial Bank of Korea invested the largest amount of $2.49 million, Korea Investment Partners invested $1.66 million, and Quad, BNK and ARK Impact contributed $1.25 million each. Seoul Investment Partners added $830,000, while Emford Equity Partners invested $580,000, and the remaining investors put in $190,000 each. Three company executives also participated in the fundraising, including the chief financial officer, the director of R&D, and the director of development.
In addition to the funds raised so far, G2GBIO also has five research grants from the Ministry of Science and ICT, the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, which will be used by the company to develop new technologies.
G2GBIO’s latest fundraiser comes after it gained ₩8 billion from a series A financing round in May 2018. Six institutional investors took part in that round, with the funds used to develop a long-acting microparticle production platform technology as well as to optimize the formulation of the company’s Alzheimer’s treatment. Lee added that further funds will be sought in the third quarter of 2021 but did not give further details.
Founded in March 2017, “in order to develop sustained-release drugs for small-molecular drugs,” the company’s name stems from its vision, “Good to Globe by Innovative Bio-therapeutics.” The company is targeting entry into the U.S. market, “the largest medical market in the world,” according to Lee. The company is looking for partners both in Korea and overseas.
G2GBIO is best known for its in-house-developed Innovative Long-Acting Microparticle, or InnoLAMP, platform for developing improved controlled-release drug products. The platform’s mass-produced microsphere injections improve drug efficacy from anywhere between one week to several months.
It can also be applied to small-molecule drugs, including oral medications with low adherence, as well as peptide-based drugs, thus expanding the technology’s scope. The company is also looking at the potential use of InnoLAMP to improve the efficacy of drugs for diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
It has filed 31 patents to date, of which 10 have been registered, and has so far secured treatments for Alzheimer’s disease (donepezil) and chemical castration. A second Alzheimer’s treatment (rivastigmine), a postoperative pain treatment, and a diabetes treatment are the newest additions to the pipeline. Heo-yong Lee, the CEO of G2GBIO, is looking to rapidly commercialize the drugs in the company's pipeline with the funds raised from the series B round.
G2GBIO plans to submit an IND, which would allow it to begin clinical trials for donepezil in the fourth quarter of 2020. Donepezil’s distinguishing factor compared to other Alzheimer’s treatments currently available in the market is that is it administered on a monthly, instead of daily, basis.
InnoLAMP also aims to address some of the challenges in conventional Alzheimer’s therapies. Taken one or twice daily, conventional medications trigger side effects that include gastrointestinal problems and allergic contact dermatitis. They also have poor therapeutic efficacy and thus increase costs for patients. G2GBIO’s sustained-release formulation would improve therapeutic efficacy and lessen the financial cost for patients.
With one of the world’s most rapidly aging populations, the number of Alzheimer’s patients is increasing quickly in Korea. The country said in October 2019 that around ₩200 billion would be invested in a nine-year research and development project to find methods for prevention, early detection and a cure for the disease.
Another Korean company developing a treatment for the disease is Biorchestra Co. Ltd, also based in Daejeon. Biorchestra’s solution for Alzheimer’s detects salivary phospho-tau and amyloid beta protein, two substances believed to be linked to Alzheimer's, to catch the disease as early as possible.
The company gained a ₩5 billion investment from South Korean pharmaceutical company Chong Kun Dang Holdings in October 2019. Chong Kun Dang purchased conversion preferred stocks issued by Biorchestra, securing the latter’s Alzheimer's treatment portfolio.