Microorganisms Can Cure Diseases

2021-01-04 Academic

Professor Se Chan Kang of the Department of Oriental Medicine Biotechnology established a biotech firm, Mbiometherapeutics

The Industry 4.0 ushers in new industries everywhere. Universities serve as incubators for new ideas and technologies as well as an expert HR pool. As a result, faculty and students launch their own businesses and more than a few succeed. Professor Se Chan Kang explains how his start-up helps Kyung Hee take on this new social responsibility of universities.

To develop Korea’s first new drug based on microbial extracts
In January 2020, Professor Kang established Mbiometherapeutics to develop materials for food, medicine, and cosmetics from microorganisms. The company name implies using microorganisms to produce treatments. He aspired to prevail in the war on resources and decided to start a business by combining microorganisms, on which he focused during the Master’s program, with nature-based medicinal materials, which is his current major.

Most biotech startups are forced to spend much time and resource on product development. During the drug development process, ranging from raw material extraction to production, they must go through intermediate stages with respect to standardization, specifications, and safety, which pose a high risk of failure. "Designing the production process as close to the actual clinical trial as possible is necessary to reduce the risk of failure," Professor Kang explained.

Professor Kang named securing sufficient funds as the biggest difficulty in commercializing research outcomes. In the biotech industry, initial decision-making is crucial to start-ups in the early stage, as the initial decisions largely determine research methods and overall costs. Sufficient funding can shorten the product development period by, for instance, enabling development and standardization to be conducted at the same time. To raise money for his firm, he passed technology assessments and received start-up grants. With the seed funds, he is developing a new drug based on microbial extracts.

“Do not let the fear of failure hold you back”
Graduate and postdoctoral students in his lab also joined the firm. “I would like my students to learn how to realize the economic value of their expertise by experiencing both research and industry. Also, I want to show them that starting a business can be an option for them,” he explained.

Professor Kang believes that intent mental focus determines one’s ultimate success or failure. "When you do something, keep your mind focused and stay motivated to complete it," he advised and emphasized, “Students are still young: they have the privilege to start over after a failure or two. Fear of failure stops amazing things from happening.”

What is his plan? “Contrary to popular beliefs, Oriental Medicine can play a major role in treatment rather than being limited to a complementary option. Going forward, I want to demonstrate that natural substances can cure diseases.” To this end, he will devote himself to research and management as a professor and CEO.

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