KIST to Transfer Anti-dementia Medication Technology
On October 16th, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and Medi Help Line signed a technology transfer agreement on anti-dementia medicine made from lycoris chejuensis (Jeju surprise lily) extract. A down payment of KRW 300 million was agreed upon, with milestone fees of KRW 200 million and a licensing fee of 2-3%.
With support from Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT, Dr. Yang Hyun Ok of KIST Gangneung’s Natural Products Research Center led her team in extracting a new anti-dementia ingredient from lycoris chejuensis. In addition to conventional anti-dementia medicines that prevent dementia-causing plaques by suppressing beta secretase, the one based on the new ingredient also activates alpha secretase, deterring beta amyloid plague and tau hyperphosphorylation, protecting brain cells, and preventing inflammation. In this way, the new medicine is able to target multiple areas simultaneously.
Through animal testing, the KIST researchers verified that the new ingredient significantly improves cognitive functions and memory, proving itself an exciting innovation in the arena of anti-dementia medications.
KIST has already patented this natural new ingredient in Korea, the US, Japan, and Europe as “…an extract of Lycoris chejuenis and/or a compound isolated therefrom for preventing and/or treating a neurodegenerative disease.”
Lycoris chejuensis is a plant native to Korea, and the KIST researchers were first to discover its anti-dementia properties. The global commercialization of medications derived from this plant is expected to be highly profitable for Korean pharmaceutical industry, since domestic R&D on lycoris chejuensis falls outside the Nagoya Protocol, which designates fees for the non-domestic use of a country’s genetic resources.
With 20 years-worth of drug R&D expertise as well as its own global consortium network, Medi Help Line is concentrating on natural new drugs and the commercialization of patented medical foods in order to lead the global market for dementia medication. Its brain disease research institute, Brain DAP, retains a drug pipeline based on its autophagy activation platform and will ultimately commercialize the new anti-dementia medication.
KIST President Lee Byung Gwon stated, “This technology transfer results from KIST’s continued collaboration with industries, culminating in the successful development of more new medications based on lycoris chejuensis.”
Park Ok Nam, CEO of Medi Help Line, said she expects “the natural, multi-targeting, multi-functional new ingredient to offer a solution for Alzheimer’s” and that her organization “will work hard to successfully develop natural anti-dementia medications.”