Although the Covid-19 pandemic persisted throughout the year, the health sector continued to fulfill its duty based on the experiences of the past year. While doing everything to develop treatments and vaccines against Covid-19, the industry has tried to graft new technologies, including AI, to promote the development of the sector. In the process, the industry has revealed issues requiring correction, such as the handling of raw materials and impurities captured in antihypertensive drugs. Yet the sector has continued to improve in line with the evolution of the global health sector amid the Covid-19 crisis. Korea Biomedical Review has compiled the five biggest stories in the industry in 2021. – Ed.
In 2021, Korea saw the development of new drugs using artificial intelligence (AI) become a trend.
In the past, companies focused AI technology solely on the discovery of candidate substances during the development of new drugs. Lately, they have started implementing AI throughout the drug development process, including drug design, preclinical and clinical trial design, and patient recruitment, and its scalability is remarkable.
Abroad, global companies, including Pfizer and Roche, are using AI to develop new drugs early on.
In his country, the Korea Pharmaceutical and Biopharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (KPBMA) opened the “AI New Drug Development Support Center” in 2019 to encourage the development of new drugs using AI.
The trend to use AI at every stage of the drug development process continued throughout this year.
New AI-based drug development companies, such as Standigm, Syntekabio, Deargen, Oncocross, Pharosbio, Baobabai Bio, PharmCADD, AzothBio, have partnered with existing biopharmaceutical companies, such as Daewoong Pharmaceutical, Hanmi Pharmaceutical, SK Chemicals, inno. N, Samjin Pharmaceutical, Handok, Jeil Pharmaceutical, Korea Pharma, Eyegene, and Huons.
For example, SK Chemicals successfully discovered a candidate material for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis through joint research with Standigm and filed a patent application for the candidate material.
Some of the AI-based new drug development companies are also pushing for the establishment of overseas offices to increase access to global pharmaceutical companies.
Deargen established offices in UK and US in August and September, PharmCADD moved into the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Boston. Mass., In August with KPBMA, and Oncocross established an Australian subsidiary in June.
Cooperation with foreign companies has also been active.
Contera Pharma, a Copenhagen-based subsidiary of Korean drug maker Bukwang Pharm, has signed a partnership with Danish AI startup Abzu to develop an RNA treatment. SK Chemicals has also signed an agreement with Standigm to strengthen strategic partnerships.
The global AI-based drug development market is likely to reach $ 1.4 billion (1.6 trillion won) by 2024.
Among various medical fields, the global Korean business movement towards radiology, where AI technology was actively applied, gained attention this year.
One example is the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) which was held earlier this month.
In the AI Showcase area of the RSNA Technology Expo, various Korean companies including VUNO, Lunit, MEDICAL IP, AIRS Medical, Neurophet, ClariPi and SoyNet presented their technology.
Lunit secured contract through partnerships with global medical device companies, including GE Healthcare, and received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for an X-ray image analysis solution chest muscles based on AI.
The company is also expanding its exports to Japan and other European countries through cooperation with Fujifilm.
Vuno is also stepping up its efforts to develop overseas markets by partnering with Philips as well as Taiwanese and Japanese medical device manufacturers.
Deepnoid, which entered the Kosdaq stock market this year, has also entered into partnerships with various global companies. The company has worked with global companies, such as Alibaba and Intel, to develop and sell solutions.
As the Korean medical industry is deeply immersed in AI technology, experts have pointed out that for AI-related medical technologies to become more active in Korea and expand their use in actual clinical practice, it is necessary necessary to improve the system, for example by introducing a new assessment of medical technology.
Although interest in AI-based medical practice is high in Korea and relevant development efforts are active, no company has received reimbursement, a prerequisite for market penetration, nor has it been successful. the evaluation of a new medical technology so far.