Rakuten Medical, Karkinos Healthcare signs strategic partnership for novel cancer care in India

October 22, 2021 0 By CH Unnikrishnan

Rakuten Medical Inc, a US-based clinical stage biotech company developing and commercializing precision, cell-targeting investigational therapies,  and Karkinos Healthcare, a new Tata Group-backed cancer care venture, has signed a strategic collaboration to expand the reach of novel cancer care to India. The partnership includes a minority stake acquisition in Karkinos Healthcare by Rakuten Medical, making the latter the first international investor in Karkinos. 

Rakuten Medical is focused on developing and commercializing innovative cancer treatments for multiple indications based on its Illuminox platform. Karkinos is a healthcare technology platform focused on delivering quality healthcare by providing access to cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment options. This strategic collaboration will enable continued innovation in cancer care with the goal of transforming cancer care in India and abroad.  

Rakuten Medical’s first pipeline drug–ASP-1929 has already received approval from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and is currently the subject of a global phase 3 clinical trial for recurrent head and neck cancer. ASP-1929 is an antibody-dye conjugate composed of the antibody cetuximab and IRDye 700DX, a light activatable dye. It binds to epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR), a cancer antigen expressed in multiple types of solid tumors, including head and neck, cutaneous, esophageal, lung, colon and pancreatic cancers.

Karkinos Healthcare is pioneering a ‘Distributed Cancer Care Network’ model in India addressing clinical needs that will bring quality care closer to patients. It has already started offering these services in five locations across Ernakulam and Idukki districts in Kerala and is planning to ramp up its operations across India.

“We are happy to partner with Karkinos Healthcare, who is committed to transforming cancer care”, said Mickey Mikitani, Chief Executive Officer of Rakuten Medical, Inc. 

“We believe this partnership will open up more opportunities for cancer patients in the Indian market, help Rakuten Medical further develop and commercialize our treatment based on our Illuminox platform, and ultimately deliver on our mission to bring this technology to as many patients as possible”.

According to Venkataramanan R, Chief Executive Officer of Karkinos Healthcare, the  collaboration with Rakuten Medical will allow Karkinos to introduce their breakthrough therapies and vital support structure for cancer patients in India. 

“We at Karkinos believe platforms like Rakuten Medical’s Illuminox can revolutionise cancer care in the country and beyond,” said Venkataramanan. 

Karkinos Healthcare, an exclucive oncology focussed healthcare platform for early detection and diagnosis of common cancers through a distributed network involving multiple healthcare institutions and professionals, has business personalities including Ratan N Tata, Venu Srinivasan, Ronnie Screwvala, Bhavish Aggarwal, and others as investors, besides Tata Group.