South Korean bio therapeutics global leader Lemonex wins SMEs and Startups Ministerial Prize at Innovation Winner 2021







▲ Lemonex / CEO Cheolhee Won, CTO Dalhee Min

[Innovation Winner]

South Korean bio therapeutics global leader Lemonex won the SMEs and Startups Ministerial Prize at the Innovation Winner 2021 held at the Seoul Press Center on November 19. The company has proved its capability in the field one more time this year by winning the ministerial prize in addition to the Trade, Industry and Energy Ministerial Prize last year. Prior to this, Dalhee Min, CTO of Lemonex and Seoul National University chemistry professor, received Technology Cooperation Contributor at the 2021 Innovative Technology Show held last October and this added her credits to be the finalists of the Innovation Winner 2021: she assisted 5 technology transfers through industry-academic cooperation projects. 



Lemonex is famous for DegradaBALL®, the modular next-generation drug delivery technology, with which the company has obtained numerous patents from South Korea, US and Japan. 


“DegradaBALL® is the original technology of Lemonex that enables the effective delivery of various new drug candidates into the cultured cells or lesions by loading the drugs inside. It is a next-generation drug delivery technology optimized especially for the development of gene therapy, cancer immunotherapy, antibody therapy, and synthetic drugs. Pre-existing drug delivery vectors such as liposomes, micelles, and exosomes are inappropriate to maintain the size of the particles, the certain level of the concentration of the drug loaded, and the stability of drug delivery system at room temperature. On the other hand, DegradaBALL® can control the size, the concentration, and the stability uniformly with convenient procedure” explains CTO Min.


Min points out that the most existing lipid nanoparticle-based drug delivery methods, needed for development of mRNA type vaccines, are depending on the patented technologies of the US to which the developers have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars of royalty. In this respect, DegradaBALL® is but received as a meaningful step forward among industry experts.


[What Can DegradaBALL® Do?]

The existing siRNA (Small Interfering RNA) has a limited drug delivery ability which makes the development environment very difficult. Patisiran, the world’s first FDA approved siRNA remedy, for example, was found with lipid nanoparticle side effects and it is known that the phase 1 clinical test is being carried out again at the moment. DegradaBALL®, on the other hand, was designed to overcome the exiting limitations of RNA gene therapy. It does not transform API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) physically and chemically and it minimizes the times and amount of administration. LEM-S401, a siRNA therapy of Lemonex, is a hypertrophic scar and keloid therapy that has gone through toxicity tests in all clinical phases. 


“We expect that our DegradaBALL®-driven mRNA vaccines will take effect on the targeted part of the muscles which can minimize systemic side effects. LNP-driven mRNA vaccines, on the other hand, had the drugs found even in the liver despite part local administration into rodents. In addition, DegradaBALL® will be applicable to the development of vaccines using synthetic antigen which makes it more usable” says Min.



Most anticancer drugs have systemic side effects and patients have to endure enormous pain as a result. Immune checkpoint inhibitor (antibody drugs), for example, has very low ORR (Objective Response Rate) which is around 10 to 30%. To increase the response rate and minimize the systemic side effects, Min currently is working on BALLKine-2. It has already shown anticancer effects through local administration and limited injections in a test.


“The future medical treatments will come with customized diagnosis and treatment which we call it ‘precision medicine’. In times of precision medicine, local administrative drug delivery technologies such as ours will play vital roles” emphasizes Cheolhee Won, CEO of Lemonex. 



Lemonex has so far received series C investments from Smilegate, Kclavis, Quantum, DB, IBK, Union and L&S worth 30.5 billion won ($25 million). Taking the momentum, CEO Won and CTO Min are pushing forward partnership with major global pharmaceutical firms for MTA (Material Transfer Agreement) to increase its presence in the field. <PowerKorea>


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