Lead Discovery Center GmbH licenses next-generation anticancer drug candidate to HLB Life Science R&D

  • The new drug candidate effectively inhibits cancer cell repair by blocking RNA transcription
  • The goal is to jointly develop a new first-in-class therapeutic drug

Dortmund, Germany, and Seoul, Korea – November 2nd, 2023. HLB Life Science R&D (HLB), a leading Korean biopharmaceutical company, signed an agreement with Lead Discovery Center GmbH (LDC) to license and co-develop a next-generation anticancer drug candidate. LDC is a top-class translational research organization renowned worldwide for early-stage drug discovery. The licensed drug candidate is based on an asset largely incubated at LDC with support from the neighboring Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology (Dortmund, Germany).

This first-in-class candidate showed anticancer efficacy in early-stage research. It especially inhibits the transcription of genes involved in the self-repair of damaged cancer cells. HLB will move the candidate into clinical development by quickly completing the preclinical phase together with LDC.

HLB announced on August 9th, 2023, the signature of the license agreement for exclusive rights worldwide of the drug candidate. LDC and its partners Max Planck Foundation, Max Planck Society and KHAN Technology Transfer Fund I (KHAN-I) will receive an upfront payment, remuneration for development and sales milestones, along with royalties based on future revenues.

Dr. Bert Klebl, CEO & CSO of LDC, says, “We are delighted to have found a strong partner in HLB Life Science R&D. HLB has the power to promote our promising and novel candidate to the next stages of development, with the aim to reach cancer patients as soon as possible. We are much looking forward to this cooperation and partnership”.


Dr. Yong Hae Han, CEO of HLB Life Science R&D and CTO of HLB Group, adds, “We have deeply discussed with LDC for a long time that both companies are very interested in researching and developing next-generation anticancer drugs. Finally, both partners have agreed to take such interests to the next level. As soon as we bring the candidate into our R&D center, we will focus all our efforts on this project, and strengthen our partnership with LDC.”

KHAN Technology Transfer Fund I GmbH & Co KG (KHAN-I) is an early-stage life sciences venture fund with € 70 million under management. Their mission is to create value through cooperative drug development partnerships with academic innovators in Europe. KHAN-I focuses on first-in-class therapies for attractive markets with a high unmet medical need. The fund is managed by Khanu Management GmbH, an experienced team of professionals with proven track records in early-stage drug development and academic spin-offs as well as pharma licensing and partnering. KHAN-I received an investment from the European Investment Fund (EIF) with the support of InnovFin Equity, and with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020 Financial Instruments and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) under the Investment Plan for Europe. KHAN-I is also supported by Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (AWS with funds provided by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs and the Austrian Foundation for Research, Technology, and Development), Max Planck Foundation, and Thyssen’sche Handelsgesellschaft mbH. In addition, KHAN-I sustains a preferred partnership with the Max Planck Society (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft e.V.).

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 About Lead Discovery Center GmbH 

Lead Discovery Center GmbH (LDC) was established in 2008 by the technology transfer organization Max Planck Innovation, as a novel approach to capitalize on the potential of excellent basic research for the discovery of new therapies for diseases with high medical need. LDC takes on promising early-stage projects from academia and transforms them into innovative pharmaceutical leads and antibodies that reach initial proof-of-concept in animals as well as candidate nomination. In close collaboration with high-profile partners from research and industry, LDC is building a strong and growing portfolio of small molecule and antibody leads with exceptional medical and commercial potential. LDC sustains a long-term partnership with the Max Planck Society and KHAN Technology Transfer Fund I (KHAN-I), and has formed alliances with AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck KGaA, Daiichi Sankyo, Qurient, invIOs, Novo Nordisk, Cumulus Oncology, Nodus Oncology, JT Pharmaceuticals, KinSea Lead Discovery AS, and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research e.g. In addition, LDC also works with leading translational drug discovery centers and with various investors to provide its assets for company creation.

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 About HLB Life Science R&D

HLB Life Science R&D, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, is a 100% subsidiary of HLB Life Science, which was founded in 1998 and listed on KOSDAQ in 2008, with its current market cap of 1 billion USD approximately. Both HLB Life Science and HLB Life Science R&D are owned and governed by HLB group. HLB Group has now 37 affiliates and, especially in the healthcare industry, it has established a fully integrated bio-ecosystem from research to commercialization. As a result of such ecosystem, one of the affiliates submitted an NDA to the US FDA for a first-line therapy of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC). As a core of R&D within the group, HLB Life Science R&D has been developing anticancer drugs for the best cancer treatments by strengthening partnerships worldwide and exploring opportunities for synergies with its R&D capabilities.

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About Max Planck Foundation

The Max Planck Foundation is a private, independent and non-profit organization with the sole purpose of providing funds for excellent, innovative and forward-looking research projects of the Max Planck Society. As additional support for scientists from the Max Planck Society the Foundation also facilitates the transfer from knowledge to application. The foundation was established in 2006 and the assets of the foundation are currently around € 650 million


About Max Planck Innovation

Max Planck Innovation (MI) is responsible for the technology transfer of the Max Planck Society and, as such, the link between industry and basic research. With an interdisciplinary team, MI advises and supports scientists at Max Planck Institutes in evaluating their inventions, filing patents and founding companies. MI offers industry unique access to the innovations of the Max Planck Institutes. Thus, MI performs an important task: the transfer of basic research results into products that contribute to economic and social progress.

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Contact: (for KHAN-I)