Interleukin-20 Antibody, a Survival Rate Booster worth NTD 400 million via Technology Transfer
In 2012, under the leadership of Ming-Shi Chang, Chair Professor of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Medicine, NCKU, a research team developed a new drug to treat osteoporosis: the monoclonal antibody of Interleukin-20 (IL-20). The technology was transferred to Novo Nordisk, a renowned European pharmaceutical company, for 400-million NTD, setting a new record for being the most expensive technology transfer among Taiwanese Academia.
According to Chair Professor Chang and her colleagues, the pathogenic mechanism of osteoporosis comes from the auto-secretory protein called “IL-20”, which led to the development of the monoclonal antibody that blocks it, thus effectively preventing the further deterioration of osteoporosis. In 2014, the team discovered that “IL-20” causes not only bone loss, but also inflammation, which is a crucial trigger in developing cancer.
In 2017, the team received a grant of NT$50 million from the Ministry of Science and Technology for the Taiwan Reputable University Startups to Taiwan Unicorns (Trust-u) Project, and established “Yong-Fu Biotech Company” via crowdfunding two years later. In 2020, the team published the research results on the IL-20 Antibody treatment of pancreatic cancer in mice on Nature Communications.
Prospectively, the team is scheduled to complete the preclinical toxicology experiment of IL-20 Antibody on monkeys in 2021, and begin clinical trials on humans in 2022. The team hopes that their efforts may boost up the survival and recovery rates of more patients of cirrhosis, as well as various cancerous diseases, such as Breast Cancer and Pancreatic Cancer, in the future.
Lai Ching-te, Vice President of Taiwan (middle), attended the Debut Ceremony of the New Drug for Pancreatic Cancer, 2020 (Courtesy of Ming-Shi Chang)
The research team led by Ming-Shi Chang (second from right) published the R&D results on the new drugs for Pancreatic Cancer treatment, 2020 (Courtesy of Ming-Shi Chang)