Overview

Be The World Best Target Factory

The expanded life expectancy of modern days radically increases probabilities of getting chronic diseases such as cancer, dementia, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Due to poor investment in R&D, however, new drug discovery has been torpid during the last decade and in 2010 only 21 new drugs were approved by the FDA in the US.

Medicinal Bioconvergence Research Center (Biocon, Director Sunghoon Kim) has been born to solve the increasing difficulties in new drug discovery. Since Biocon foresees that securing novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers that can accurately indicate various human diseases is the biggest bottleneck in drug discovery, it will mainly focus on novel therapeutic target discovery and validation that can be further explored by the industry.

While focusing on the pathological network mediated by ARSs, Biocon will further expand its interest to other targets. For rapid expansion of target discovery and validation, Biocon will integrate diverse cutting-edge technologies not only from bioscience area such as bioinformatics, genomics, proteomics, cellomics and animal models, but also from other area such as chemical-, nano-, microfluidicand biochip-technologies.

Using these research contents and innovative technologies, Biocon aims to become "The World Best Target Factory" that fills the upstream value chain for the global drug discovery community.

Global crisis in drug discovery

The expanded life expectancy of modern days radically increases probabilities of getting chronic diseases such as cancer, dementia, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, pandemic diseases were one of the four major risks at the global level based on recent OECD reports. Due to poor investment in R&D, however, new drug discovery has been torpid during the last decade and in 2010 only 21 new drugs were approved by the FDA in the US.

Launching 'Biocon'

Biocon collaborates with intra- and extramural networks on this project. The inner core center is hosted by Seoul National University and the extramural research units consists of teams that investigate innovative target discovery, drug design, drug screening and disease modeling technologies. Biocon’s projects are further strengthened by the experienced guidance of the international advisory board which consists of global-level scientists such as Dr. Ada Yonath (a 2009 novel prize winner), Dr. Richard Lerner, Dr. Paul Schimmel (Scripps, USA), Dr. Nahum Sonenberg (McGill Univ, Canada) and Dr. Alex Matter (CEO, Experimental Therapeutic Center) etc.

Biocon's Teamwork

Biocon collaborates with intra- and extramural networks on this project. The inner core center is hosted by Seoul National University and the extramural research units consists of teams that investigate innovative target discovery, drug design, drug screening and disease modeling technologies. Biocon’s projects are further strengthened by the experienced guidance of the international advisory board which consists of global-level scientists such as Dr. Ada Yonath (a 2009 novel prize winner), Dr. Richard Lerner, Dr. Paul Schimmel (Scripps, USA), Dr. Nahum Sonenberg (McGill Univ, Canada) and Dr. Alex Matter (CEO, Experimental Therapeutic Center) etc.

Working philosophy

The technology code of Biocon is S.A.F.E, which is the abbreviation of Smart, Accurate, Fast, and Economic. Biocon believes that the current static stage of drug discovery can be overcome through combination of original science and innovative technology. To accomplish this agenda, it offers an open research platform and recruits global partners and colleagues who have originality, creativeness and other unique specialties. Biocon hopes to become an alternative collaborative model of drug discovery by combining different sectors from the university, institutes and the industry as a united team that can provide a more efficient, flexible and innovative platform for drug discovery.

Main target of interest

Biocon primarily focuses on human aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (ARSs) and the cellular proteins that are functionally associated with ARSs. Although ARSs catalytically link their cognate amino acids to tRNAs for protein synthesis, they also play diverse roles for the homeostasis of the body system. We chose these enzymes and their associated factors for a few reasons. First, they take a central role in the control of life. For this reason, all the component factors are functionally critical. Second, they are versatile in their molecular interactions, binding amino acids, ATP and tRNAs and also various cellular proteins. This character and structural diversity can be explored as novel therapeutic points. Third, many aberrant behaviors of these enzymes in terms of expression and structural variations are associated with human diseases. Forth, they are yet unexplored for therapeutic applications. Based on the recent progress on the novel functions and pathologic implications of these ancient enzymes and their associated factors, Biocon considers that this enzyme family has great potential and novelty to explore as a new drug target space as well as a therapeutic resource with distinct applications.

Perspective

While focusing on the pathological network mediated by ARSs, Biocon will further expand its interest to other targets. For rapid expansion of target discovery and validation, Biocon will integrate diverse cutting-edge technologies not only from bioscience area such as bioinformatics, genomics, proteomics, cellomics and animal models, but also from other area such as chemical-, nano-, microfluidicand biochip-technologies. Using these research contents and innovative technologies, Biocon aims to become “The World Best Target Factory” that fills the upstream value chain for the global drug discovery community.