“We are leading the market for individualized immunity care, expanding our research lab for NK Cell R&D, establishing automated cultivation center for GMP, and building businesses on microbiome food products.”
So revealed CEO Shin Dong-hwa of NKCL Bio Group.
- What’s the business like?
▶NKCL works around the keyword “immunity.” We are a bio firm that conducts R&D into NK cell treatments and immunity care products that will help strengthen immunity. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in some difficulties, but we worked hard in 2020. We brought together our research achievements so far and expanded the NKCL affiliated research center to facilitate R&D. We launched NK immune cafe and launched various products to help strengthen immunity.
In 2021, we are looking to take a functional medicine approach in activating NK cells to strengthen immunity. At the end of January, we founded the NKCL Microbiome Research Center, and used microbiome technology to launch various products for balancing the intestinal microorganisms.
Additionally, we are pursuing a distribution project for agricultural produce that is free from GMO, produced without genetic manipulations. We are expanding our business from multiple angles for bodily health and improved immunity.
- Tell us more about the core technology related to NK Cells.
▶NK Cells (Natural Killer Cells) are immunity cells that identify and destroy viruses that entered from outside and other harmful cells that were generated within the body. Immunity cell treatment, known as the next-generation cancer treatment, acts to discover and destroy cancer stem cells that have shown strong resistance against conventional cancer treatments. For early-stage cancer, immunity cell treatment alone can help with treatment.NKCL Bio Group is equipped with automated cultivation system run with artificial intelligence, which results in improved productivity, lower prices, and its commercialization.
Our technology is also differentiated. NKCL has the ideal recipe for cell cultivation. Using FACS, NK cell ratio and number of cells before and after cultivation can be identified. Another core technology is targeted treatment. NK immunity cells attack all abnormal cells, including viruses and cancer cells. To maximize the destruction of cancer cells, NKCL preemptively enters information about cancer cells in the process of cultivating NK cells, using technology to target them and to focus on destroying them.
- How is NKCL preparing for the market for consignment development and production of cell treatments?
▶ According to Frost & Sullivan, a global market research firm, the global CDMO market size amounted to 13.3 billion dollars in 2019 (about 15 trillion won), and will continue to grow for the next 5 years to reach 25.3 billion dollars in 2025 (around 29 trillion won). Among them, the market for consignment production of cell and generic treatments is predicted to grow at 31% annually.
The CDMO market is going through a fast growth phase, and Korean firms for cell treatment consignment production are responding by expanding their production capacity. NKCL Bio Group began its NK cell treatment R&D and construction of automated cell cultivation facility in 2019. In particular, the system was designed with the aim of receiving three certifications at the same time: KGMP, EUGMP, and cGMP.
We plan to build an automated cultivation system using AI, and to build big data that records all production history and bio data using blockchain technology. As the pressure grows to expand productivity, NKCL Bio Group’s cutting-edge cell treatment production facility is expected to bring better productivity and lower costs.
- What are your prospects for the future of the market for individualized immunity care?
▶ We are living in an age where people live not just 100 years, but even 120. To lead the bio industry amidst the 4th Industrial Revolution, individualized, customized services are an indispensable element. The medical paradigm of the future is also expected to lean towards precision medicine, centering on customized drugs.
This means an individual’s genetic data, medical history, and lifestyle data are used to build customized solutions. NKCL is already running such services through various products, including the bio-medicine immunity cell treatments, so we are already aware of the market needs.
- Tell us more about the background behind the foundation of the NKCL Microbiome Lab earlier this year, and your future plans with it.
▶ Last year, the government announced its plans to foster the growth of bio-integrated businesses, and number 1 out of the 5 auspicious industries is microbiome. Currently, NKCL is running a customized immunity care platform, which helps to strengthen immunity by activating NK immunity cells. We predicted that the conventional approach of directly activating the immunity cells to treat diseases, as well as the integration of microbiome technology using functional medicine, will result in a synergy that could further strengthen general immunity.
Additionally, NKCL is working to launch 5-stage test kits for microorganisms, and the construction of a microorganism inspection center. The inspection center will provide a service for analyzing intestinal microorganisms, and customized solutions to prevent diseases. This will help improve metabolism and digestion, ultimately improving immunity.
Additionally, our next goal is to establish an intestinal microorganism transplant center, using research data, donated intestinal microorganisms, and a transplant technology to treat intestinal diseases. We are thus planning to expand our bio business to cover microbiome treatment.
- What is your management philosophy?
▶ The motto of NKCL is “Save a life, Save a soul.” So, when we prepare and plan for growth, we always try to run our business in ways that will make this motto come true. We think a lot about how we can be aligned with or even transcend our times, with advanced technology and our capacity and technology. We think about how to combine AI technology and biotech (bio industry) in times of the 4th Industrial Revolution and seek trends in customized immunity care platform. In addition, as a Christian firm, we plan and conduct all our businesses to exert beneficial influence.
The growth of online commerce (shopping) due to the pandemic only allows for the survival of those who can reflect individuals’ diverse tastes and needs. To materialize our keyword, immunity, NKCL reflects various customer needs in building solutions, and works quickly to develop those into products and programs for distribution. And all of this is possible because NKCL owns the core technology.
We also created an immunity platform and attracted users with rich contents. The biggest competitive advantage of NKCL is the fact that it is a bio firm that has the merchandising capacity to successfully launch products, and its capacity for multinational marketing. It also has the power to do all this at great speed. This is how we grew our business quickly.