Dr. Jin-San Yoo, President and CEO
Although PharmAbcine’s conception was one of its kind and equally promising, they could not have expected a turbulent aftermath. Selected as a finalist in the 2008 GATE project lead by Novartis, the company was able to secure the prestigious funding, but in 12 days, its planned series A fell apart. It was the global economy crisis that stood to derail PharmAbcine. However this didn’t cause the company to lose hope. By going through aggressive due diligence and with the help of OrbiMed, PharmAbcine were able to close series A in early September 2009. “We are very proud that PharmAbcine is the only company who could raise capital by both OrbiMed and Novartis during the tough time. They valued our assets—olinvacimab, DIG-Body platform, PIG-Body platform, HuPhage library, antigen customized selection system and patients derived cancer stem cell library,” says Dr Jin-San Yoo, the president and CEO of PharmAbcine. And the rest as they say is history.
Today, PharmAbcine is a clinical-stage publicly traded company, focusing on innovative next-generation antibody therapeutics to bring clinical benefit to patients’ lives. “We started this business with the construction of a fully human antibody library with high quality and diversity. By using this library and a customized selection system, we have developed several innovative pipelines,” states Dr. Yoo.
Comprehensive Human Antibody Library
PharmAbcine’s HuPhage library is a fully human antibody library with 10^11 diversity and highest quality. By using HuPhage antibody library and selection system, PharmAbcine has been able to isolate olinvacimab— previously TTAC-0001 or tanibirumab—which is an anti-human VEGFR2 (KDR) neutralizing fully human IgG with unique epitope and cross species cross reactivity which is far different from ramucirumab. Currently, bevacizumab is the only drug fully approved by FDA for recurrent GBM patients on December 2017 but it has no overall survival benefit for patients except some brain edema relief. Recognizing this, PharmAbcine is currently working together with MERCK to explore whether the combination of olinvacimab and pembrolizumab creates synergistic effect in terms of clinical value. “We plan to complete our Phase Ib studies on both rGBM (recurrent GBM) and mTNBC (metastatic triple negative breast cancer) within this year and proceed to global Phase II pivotal studies in 2020. We are also preparing for olinvacimab and pembrolizumab combination phase II in ACC (Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma) and planning to expand indications such as mRCC and others where angiogenesis inhibitors like axitinib or ramucirumab received market approval,” mentions Dr. Yoo.
PharmAbcine’s olinvacimab cause fairly low or significantly lower rate of side effects compared to competitors such as hypertension, haemorrhage/ bleeding, gastric/lung perforation and proteinuri.
We plan to complete our Phase Ib studies on both rGBM (recurrent GBM) and mTNBC (metastatic triple negative breast cancer) within this year and proceed to global Phase II pivotal studies in 2020
The company also is developing diverse bispecific antibodies which contain olinvacimab, and these bispecific antibodies will have superiority in both efficacy and safety over other competitor’s bispecific antibodies containing Avastin. “We would like to have reliable biomarkers to stratify patients who will respond to olinvacimab and olinvacimab containing bispecific antibodies and the research is still ongoing,” says Dr. Yoo. Since olinvacimab was granted ODD by both USFDA and MFDS for primary and recurrent GBM, PharmAbcine will complete the necessary study to bring olinvacimab to market as early as possible. The company aims to execute the combination of olinvacimab and pembrolizumab to yield the best synergistic effect for patients in terms of clinical value.
PharmAbcine’s olinvacimab has shown 25 percent disease control rate in its phase IIa recurrent GBM studies in Australia. Among patients that they have successfully tested their trial, one rGBM patient who had fairly large size of tumour has shown 80 percent reduction in size of tumour after administration of olinvacimab. Also, 52% of patients showed reduction in brain edema which greatly affects quality of life of rGBM patients. One other rGBM patient was given medication for 15 cycle (28 days/cycle) and showed VEGFR2 over-expression on tumor cells, and he has the most clinical benefit and lived more than 15 months. The third patient also has shown longer survival life span with decent quality of life. Patients who showed disease progression after olinvacimab treatment also showed reaction to avastin. PharmAbcine is exploring to elucidate which type of rGBM patients will get the most clinical benefit by olinvacimb. No wonder that the company recently closed funding by issuing 100 Billion KRW convertible bond for global trials of olinvacimab as single agent and combination with pembrolizumab in various indications.
At the Cusp of olinvacimab Innovation
Dr. Yoo mentions that PharmAbcine will accelerate IND submissions of its innovative next generation bispecific antibodies; PMC-001, PMC-002, PMC-002R, PMC- 201, and PMC-122, monospecific antibodies; PMC-005BL, PMC-309, PMC-401, PMC-401s, and PMC- 402 and undisclosed molecules. The company has already expanded to Australia and U.S. in preparation to overcome the limitation of being a Korean company and make PharmAbcine a global leading next generation biologics company which can deliver true clinical value for patients.
According to Dr. Yoo, team power plays the biggest role for the growth of the company and for this PharmAbcine has been actively hiring talented candidates with global experiences where Dr. Yoo actively participates in each of the hiring processes. “We will be continuously placing great emphasis on the hiring process in order to find the right person for the company,” he mentions. We plan to complete our Phase Ib studies on both rGBM (recurrent GBM) and mTNBC (metastatic triple negative breast cancer) within this year and proceed to global Phase II studies in 2020.