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Professor Sang Won Kang Attracts an Investment of KRW 18 Billion Following the Development of a New Drug...


Professor Sang Won Kang Attracts an Investment of KRW 18 Billion Following the Development of a New Drug to Treat Vascular Diseases

Faculty start-up company “Vasthera” attracted an additional investment of KRW 18 billion, two years after receiving KRW 5.5 billion in investment following the development of a new drug to treat vascular diseases.

혈관치료 신약개발로 투자 유치한 생명과학전공 강상원 교수“Vasthera” is a biotechnology company that aims to develop first-in-class new drugs for cardiovascular diseases and cancers. It was established in February 2018 as an Ewha faculty start-up company, as Professor Sang Won Kang of the Department of Life Sciences transferred a patent based on the results of research on redox signaling in the field of therapeutics for vascular diseases and cancers.

Vasthera attracted an investment worth KRW 18 billion in late February 2021. Existing investors ID Ventures, SJ Investment Partners and Medytox Venture Investment also chose to participate in the follow-up investment, while UTC Investment, Medici Investment, Shinhan Venture Investment, Partners Investment and HG Initiative/Daesung Venture Capital joined the venture as new investors. This marks a significant achievement two years after the attraction of the initial investment worth KRW 5.5 billion, thereby reaching a cumulative investment of KRW 23.2 billion so far. With this new investment, Vasthera has gained a foothold for conducting a clinical trial on new drug candidates for pulmonary artery hypertension (PAH) and a pre-clinical study on triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).

신약 약물 VTA-04의 표적질환인 폐동맥고혈압(PAH) 작용 기전The research team led by Professor Sang Won Kang had previously identified the role of redox signaling in certain diseases and conducted research on the potential of targeted therapeutics. The research team examined peroxiredoxin-2, an essential antioxidant enzyme, as a targeted drug for redox signaling. The team had already published the study outcome that peroxiredoxin-2 regulated platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) signaling and vascular remodeling in Nature in 2005, and had since published study results that a peroxiredoxin-2 activity mimetic could normalize vascular function in academic journals in 2011 and 2013.

Professor Sang Won Kang explained, “Redox signaling is a new mechanism that proves the fact that reactive oxygen species (ROS) are by-products of normal cell activity, which is a relatively less well-understood mechanism that was only discovered around 20 years ago,” and added, “As a leading company in developing new drugs targeting signaling pathways, Vasthera found that the loss of function in enzymes related to redox signaling may cause vascular diseases and cancers, and that the recovery of the lost function can be a treatment option.”

The research team discovered a substance that accurately imitates peroxiredoxin-2 activity among natural substances and succeeded in developing a new drug named VTA-04, which newly synthesizes the component responsible for activity. The first target disease to be treated by VTA-04 was determined as PAH, a rare vascular disease, and the targets are expanding to cancers and brain disorders. The therapeutic developed through this study is different from existing therapeutics in that it was developed to target blood vessels from the beginning. The team will complete the development of the dosage form of the new PAH drug VTA-04 for clinical use within the first half of this year, and plans to expand the treatment targets to TNBC among malignant tumors, brain disorders and more in the future.

  • 2022.04.07. EWHA NEWS