Samsung Biologics, the world’s largest contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) by capacity, has invested in AimedBio, a Korean biotech firm specializing in antibody-drug conjugates.

The equity investment was made through the Samsung Life Science Fund, a venture fund jointly created by Samsung Biologics, Samsung C&T, and Samsung Bioepis and managed by Samsung Ventures Investment Corporation. The fund, valued at 170 billion Korean won (about $128 million), is made up of contributions from Samsung C&T and Samsung Biologics amounting to around $113 million, with Samsung Bioepis adding $15 million​​. It has previously invested in three other biopharma startups: Jaguar Gene Therapy, Senda Biosciences, and Araris Biotech AG.

AimedBio’s CDMO Partnership

The investment in AimedBio manifests Samsung Biologics’ endeavor to diversify its portfolio and cultivate potential future collaborations on drug development and manufacturing.

As part of its investment, the CDMO and AimedBio will collaborate on a research partnership focused on co-developing antibody-drug conjugate technologies. ADCs are complex molecules that can deliver potent drugs very specifically to desired tissues, which makes them a promising area of cancer therapy.

Samsung Biologics also signed a contract development agreement to advance AimedBio’s monoclonal antibody therapy for dementia and atopic dermatitis.

“We are pleased to support AimedBio for their pipeline of innovative candidates toward the clinic,” said John Rim, President and CEO of Samsung Biologics.

“As part of our continued efforts in fostering next-generation technologies, we hope this investment paves the way for future collaborations on the development and manufacturing of new drugs.”

AimedBio’s pipeline is focused on the discovery and advancement of medicines for neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and certain forms of cancer. The company’s tech uses artificial intelligence and multiomics, an integrated analysis approach that combines data from different molecular layers (such as genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics), to analyze patients’ samples. It’s a technique that could be used in pioneering treatments for neurological diseases.

Their pipeline also includes an ADC experimental drug candidate to potentially treat brain and bladder cancers, with clinical trials anticipated for the coming year.

Samsung Life Science Fund’s Portfolio

Samsung Life Science Fund’s investment portfolio, prior to the AimedBio collaboration, comprises three notable investments.

The first, in March 2022, was Jaguar Gene Therapy, a company focused on developing gene therapy treatments for severe genetic diseases. Its core technology aims to enhance the purity of adeno-associated virus capsids, which are crucial for the effectiveness of gene therapy.

The fund followed this up just months later with an investment of $15 million in Senda Biosciences during the company’s Series C funding round, valued at $123 million. Senda operates at the intersection of biology and computation, working on therapies that interact with the human microbiome to treat diseases.

In April 2023, the fund invested in Araris Biotech AG, which is developing a proprietary antibody-drug conjugate-linker technology. This investment, along with Samsung Biologics’ AimedBio partnership, suggests an increased focus on ADCs for the CDMO in the near future.

“Probably the quickest area of growth for us is ADC,” said Rim at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in January. “Our current clients are producing monoclonal antibodies which then get sent to a different CDMO for the linkage and conjugation components. So, we’re trying to vertically integrate.”

What’s Next for Samsung Biologics?

The fund’s investments come at a time of significant financial growth and facility expansion for Samsung Biologics as the CDMO industry continues to grow.

In its Q2 2023 earnings report, Samsung Biologics disclosed a revenue of 866.2 billion won, a 33% increase compared to the same quarter in the previous year. The operating profit was 253.4 billion won, marking a 49.4% year-over-year growth.

These financial figures represent a notable uptick in profitability for both the quarter and the first half of the year, which Rim attributed to the full utilization of Plants 1 through 3 and expanded partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies. The revenue generated from Plant 4, which was completed in June of this year, is expected to be reflected in the third quarter results and is expected to further bolster the company’s performance.

Samsung Biologics has already signed several contracts to utilize Plant 4. Its active partnerships include deals with Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and other global big pharma companies and range from monoclonal antibody production to biosimilars.

Looking ahead, Samsung Biologics has unveiled expansion plans. It plans to commence operations at its fifth plant by April 2025, which will add 180,000 liters to the company’s current capacity of 604,000 liters. Plant 5 will be part of a larger Bio Campus II facility planned for construction at the company’s Songdo, South Korea headquarters in the coming years.

By Manali