Myelodysplastic syndrome takes place when bone marrow, soft tissue found in the center of the bones, is unable to produce enough blood cells. According to data cited by Seoul National University Hospital, the syndrome happens between 2.1 and 12.6 per 100,000 people. Of the total 254,718 cancer cases in South Korea in 2019, myelodysplastic syndrome accounted for 1,371 cases, or 0.5 percent.
SK Plasma said the company signed an exclusive sales agreement with Janssen Korea for Dacogen, which treats myelodysplastic syndrome in the form of an intravenous injection that administers the medicine directly into the vein. Dacogen will be distributed through SK Plasma's distribution network. "Through this agreement, our business portfolio as a pharmaceutical company specializing in rare and incurable diseases has been further upgraded," SK Plasma CEO Kim Seung-joo said in a statement on February 13.
Dacogen can be also used to treat acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), one of the most common acute leukemia that takes place among adults. The life-threatening cancer is caused by large quantities of immature cells called "myeloblasts." Patients often suffer from fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
SK Plasma has expanded its business scope from blood product production to rare and incurable disease therapies in 2021. The company partnered with a domestic biotech firm called Curocell to promote the commercialization of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapies in South Korea and abroad. CAR-T cells, which attack tumors by modifying immune cells called "T cells," are known to cause fewer side effects than administering someone else's white blood.