Press Release

Pharos I&BT & Institut Pasteur Korea Team Up to Fight Leishmaniasis, One of the World’s Most Neglected Diseases

Pangyo, Gyeonggi, 20 Sept, 2016 | Institut Pasteur Korea (IPK) and Pharos I&BT (Pharos) announce a Drug Discovery project against leishmaniasis. The collaboration combines IPK’s basic science research capabilities and cell-based screening technology with Pharos’s low-cost and high-efficiency drug discovery technology which forecasts various drug toxicity using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to discover small molecules to treat leishmaniasis. Research kicked off in September 2016 and will take place over the next three years. The strategic partnership is part of a series of collaboration projects supported by the Gyeonggi Provincial Government.
Leishmaniasis is caused by parasitic protozoa of the genus Leishmania. Humans are infected via the bite of certain types of sandflies. The disease affects some of the most resource poor people on earth, and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and lack of financial resources. According to the WHO, globally 350 million people are threatened by leishmaniasis. An estimated 900,000–1.3 million new cases are reported yearly and 20,000-30,000 deaths occur annually.
Dr. JooHwan No, Group Leader, IPK Leishmania Research Laboratory, says, “Leishmaniasis is a treatable and curable disease with existing therapies, however there is huge room for improvement due to lack of accessibility and toxicity of available medicines.  Novel drugs need to be developed that are affordable and more effective.” Additionally, he says, “I am glad Pharos has shown interest leishmaniasis and hope the collaboration leads to discovery of a novel compound and raises public awareness of the disease.”
JungHuck Yoon, Pharos CEO says, “Financial investment by the Gyeonggi Provincial Government in global public health R&D has significant messages and far reaching effects. For leishmaniasis, the drug discovery collaboration leverages the best scientific talent and resources from IPK and Pharos has to offer its technology in order to discover and develop low-cost and high-efficiency drugs that will address issues of accessibility.”
Dr. Roberto Bruzzone, IPK CEO, notes, “Leishmaniasis is one of the world’s most neglected disease that takes an economic toll on millions. This collaboration seeks to gain insight into some of the fundamental questions about the biology of this parasite and synergize with BT and IT to address real clinical needs through discovery of new potential treatments.”
The collaboration between Pharos and IPK is supported by the Gyeonggi Provincial Government as part of the province’s mission to reinforce and invest in the research and development capabilities of Gyeonggi-based institutions.  In 2016, five projects will be selected to co-research with IPK. As of September 2016, four partners, including Pharos have been identified: Samjin Pharma/IPK, J2H Biotech/IPK, and Kainos Medicine/IPK. These chosen institutions will have access to IPK’s award-winning screening platform and skilled research specialists as well as financial support from the Gyeonggi Provincial Government.

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About Institut Pasteur Korea
Institut Pasteur Korea (IPK) is an international research institute focused on addressing global health issues with a combination of cutting edge approaches in order to understand disease mechanisms and develop new treatments. By promoting multi-disciplinary projects, IPK is at the forefront of drug discovery and an economic growth engine that contributes to Korea’s scientific intellectual and technical resources. IPK has four core missions of public interest – 1) Research, combining front line biology, IT, and chemistry, with innovative cell-based drug discovery platforms that identify novel molecular targets for potential new therapies to treat diseases, 2) Education, offering a wide range of programming to nurture the development of the next generation of scientists and health professionals, 3) Public Health, working in collaboration with national and international health authorities, and 4) Translation of biomedical discoveries to improve health via technology transfer and industrial partnerships.
IPK is a member of the Institut Pasteur International Network (Network). As a hub institution, IPK plays a key role in the Network, serving as a bridge between Korea and global bio-pharma science, expanding Korea’s R&D base collaborative research projects with global alliances
The institute was established in April 2004 in collaboration with Institut Pasteur Paris and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), with support from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP). IPK also has a great supporter in the Gyeonggi Provincial government (2005 – 2015 : Block funding | 2016 – Present : drug discovery co-resarch fund for pharm industries).
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