April 27, 2018

Samsung BioLogics seeks to nullify Lonza’s cell line tech patent in Korea

PUBLISHED : July 06, 2017 - 17:46

UPDATED : July 06, 2017 - 17:46

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[THE INVESTOR] Samsung BioLogics, the contract drug manufacturing arm of Samsung Group, said on July 6 that it has filed a lawsuit in Korea to nullify Switzerland-based Lonza’s patents involving its cell line development technology.

The Korean drugmaker said the lawsuit comes as part of efforts to remove hurdles to its expanded business direction -- providing contract-based biologic drug development services to drugmakers in need, on top of producing biologics for clients that place orders.


A view of Samsung BioLogics’ booth (left) and Lonza’s booth (right) at the 2017 Bio International Convention in San Diego. Sohn Ji-young/The Korea Herald

Lonza’s patent in question involves an expression vector that brings a specific DNA into a target cell and instigates its growth. This modified cell is multiplied and grown to form a large batch, or a cell line, that produces certain proteins or antibodies designed to target certain medical conditions.

According to Samsung BioLogics, the use of this expression vector forms the basis of any biologics development and cannot be perceived as technology exclusive to Lonza, which filed a related patent in Korea in 2013.

“The given patent held by Lonza is one that has already been nullified or denied in developed countries like the US, Europe and Japan, considering the technology has long been commonly in use in the industry. It’s only upheld in countries with a relatively less-developed biotech sector including Korea, India and China,” Samsung BioLogics said in a statement.

“Hence, we’ve taken legal measures to ensure that this patent does not act as an unfair hurdle that weighs down on Korean biotech companies as well as disrupts Samsung BioLogics’ new contract drug development business.” it said.

Samsung BioLogics CEO Kim Tae-han newly announced last month that the company will start offering drug development services support to small-sized pharmaceutical firms, in addition to its flagship contract drug manufacturing services, to widen its business portfolio.

It has therefore repositioned itself as a contract development manufacturing organization or CDMO, a business model taken on by rivals like Lonza and Boehringer Ingelheim. It is an extension from Samsung’s previous label as a contract manufacturing organization, or CMO.

As a CDMO, Samsung BioLogics will offer more comprehensive, “end-to-end” services that extend from early cell line development to optimizing production and scale-up processes for commercial sales and commercial manufacturing, according to the Korean drugmaker.

Listed on Korea’s main bourse Kospi, Samsung BioLogics currently produces live cell-based biologic drugs on behalf of its clientele of global pharmaceutical companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche.

The Songdo-based company is spearheading Samsung Group’s push into biopharmaceuticals as the Korean tech conglomerate seeks success in new, promising industries beyond its flagship electronics business.

By Sohn Ji-young/The Korea Herald (

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