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U.S. and South Korean Firms Form Joint Venture

Sorrento Therapeutics, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company in San Diego, and Yuhan Corporation, an established health care company based in Seoul, have entered into an agreement to form a joint venture, ImmuneOncia Therapeutics. The joint venture will develop and commercialise a number of immune checkpoint antibodies against undisclosed targets for both hematological malignancies and solid tumors.

Yuhan will contribute an initial investment of USD 10 million to ImmuneOncia, and Sorrento will grant the joint venture an exclusive license for one of their immune checkpoint antibodies for specified countries while retaining the rights for US, European, and Japanese markets, as well as global rights for the JV to two additional antibodies that will be selected by ImmuneOncia from a group of pre-specified antibodies from Sorrento’s immuno-oncology antibody portfolio. Yuhan will own 51% of ImmuneOncia, while Sorrento will hold the remaining 49%. Yuhan’s Chief Scientific Officer Su Youn Nam will be appointed CEO of ImmuneOncia. The first of the three immune checkpoint antibodies is expected to enter clinical trials next year.

“This global joint venture enables Sorrento and Yuhan to combine our complementary strengths with the ultimate goal of developing and commercialising Sorrento’s innovative immune checkpoint mAbs,” stated Sorrento CEO Henry Ji.

Sorrento’s lead products are multiple late-stage biosimilar and biobetter antibodies, as well as clinical CAR-T therapies targeting solid tumours. A  Citigroup Global Markets report predicted that the annual market for immunotherapies, consisting of anti-checkpoint antibodies, vaccines, and cell therapies, will exceed USD35 billion while becoming the backbone of treatment for up to 60% of cancers over the next decade.

As one of the top healthcare companies in Korea, Yuhan has a global presence in the form of joint ventures with Janssen (Belgium), the Clorox Company (USA), and Kimberly-Clark Corporation (USA).

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