Science of Aging

Aging - 1. Aging in humans

1) Aging
Aging refers to the natural process of growing older and the declining vitality that happens to our bodies over time. As the physiological capacity of the human body weakens, our disease risk and mortality rates gradually increase in turn. While aging does not necessarily mean that geriatric diseases are inevitable, the incidence rates of many diseases increase as we age.
2) Aging Science and Geriatric Diseases
Aging science refers to the scientific and technological research that focuses on biological aging, its outcomes such as geriatric diseases, and ways to overcome or address these outcomes. It also includes the study of socioeconomic phenomena and policies that impact the aging population. Geriatric diseases refer to a range of chronic diseases that have a negative impact on our longevity. These are usually viewed as being distinct to the process of natural biological deterioration that normally accompanies old age.

As the costs needed to care for our aging population continue to increase, more long-term and proactive research focusing on geriatric diseases is needed to ensure a sustainable and vibrant socioeconomic future. Today, many leading pharmaceutical companies are investing tremendous efforts and resources in the development of drugs that can prevent and cure various geriatric diseases.
The science of aging and treating geriatric diseases
[KISTEP,2012.12. Science Technology and Research Development Trend Brief, Present Conditions and Implications of Disease Research Related to Aging]

Aging - 2. Age-related Diseases

1) Recognizing Aging as a Disease
The 11th Edition of the International Classification of Disease, published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in June 2018, introduced the new Code MG2A: Old Age. This means that aging has been officially classified as a disease. This is important because the identification and classification of diseases influences everything from health policy to health insurance claims. Within this context, the WHO classification of ‘Old Age’ as a disease should be understood as particularly meaningful.

Aged cells are normally removed by the body’s immune system. However, as the body’s physiological capacity and immune system weakens as we grow older, aged cells begin to accumulate in the major tissues and organs. These accumulating aged cells create a sustained inflammatory environment, damaging neighboring tissues and causing various degenerative diseases that affect health and well-being.

A research team at the Mayo Clinic has coined the term ‘senolytics’ as a new term for drugs that can delay this process. They have also selected dasatinib (an anticancer drug) and quercetin (an anti-inflammatory drug) as candidate drugs for the field of senolytics.

Experiments using genetically modified mice have demonstrated that the artificial removal of aged cells from the body may increase life expectancy by 35% and alleviate geriatric diseases. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in the relationship between aged cells and the recovery of homeostasis (the ‘natural state’) have yet to be fully understood. Serious interest and research into this topic has only just begun, together with the discovery and development of drugs that can selectively eliminate aged cells or rejuvenate them.

For example, Calico, a healthcare company launched by Google, has been aggressively focusing on identifying solutions to geriatric diseases since its establishment. Following this trend, many other companies have recently been founded to promote research and development in aging and geriatric diseases.

Meanwhile, Juvenescence, a company established by a British billionaire in 2017, in-licensed a candidate drug from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in the United States. In early 2019, Juvenescence also invested in AgeX Therapeutics and LyGenesis to broaden its research and investment portfolio.
[ MEDIGATE NEWS, 2019.05.15-. [Column] Dr. Jin Keon Pai, Advisor of HaplnScience Inc., If Aging is a diseases, We Live Each Day Introducing more Illness into Our Lives ]
2) Diversity and Prevalence of Geriatric Chronic Diseases
The World Health Organization has designated cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer as the four major chronic disease groups responsible for the highest burden of disease worldwide.

In South Korea, the prevalence of chronic diseases continues to skyrocket, leading to significant increases in government health expenditure. Approximately 94% of the elderly population suffers from at least one chronic disease, and nearly 70% of those aged 65 and older suffer from three or more diseases simultaneously.

Unmet medical needs are more common in the elderly, which negatively impacts their quality of life.

Major geriatric chronic diseases include cardio-cerebrovascular diseases (e.g. hypertension, stroke), musculoskeletal diseases (e.g. arthritis, osteoporosis), and respiratory diseases (e.g. asthma, COPD). Diseases related to the endocrine system (e.g. diabetes), nervous system (e.g. Alzheimer’s), and degeneration of the skin and hair are also included.

Among the most common geriatric diseases, many including osteoarthritis, COPD, dementia, aging of the skin, and hair loss do not have effective treatments available. For this reason, new drugs to treat these conditions are urgently needed.
[ Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “2016 Chronic Diseases Present Conditions and Issues" ]

Aging - 3. Aging and the Extracellular Matrix (ECM)

The Extracellular Matrix (ECM) is a tissue matrix that fills the spaces between individual cells in close proximity and is composed of structural components like collagen and hyaluronan (HA). The ECM provides structural support for the body and also plays an important role in the recovery of tissue that is damaged or has deteriorated due to aging and disease. However, as organisms age, fibroblasts in the ECM slowly stop growing and proliferating, reducing the amounts and strength of connective tissue components and cell-cell adhesion.
The Structure and Function of the ECM
  • The ECM is composed of various structural components (collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid), binding proteins (proteoglycans, glycoproteins) and growth factors
  • The components and structure of the ECM depends on the type of tissue. Cartilage is a ligament with high levels of collagen and contains glycosaminoglycans such as hyaluronic acid to maintain high elasticity during tensile and compressive stress
  • Tissues can be categorized into three major types: soft tissue (brain, spinal cord), elastic tissue (muscle, blood vessel), and hard tissue (bone, tooth) depending on how they connect with the ECM components
  • The binding proteins in the cell play important regulatory roles in proliferation, growth, and death
  • The concentration of ECM components decreases with aging, leading to a negative impact on homeostasis and important properties including the adhesive and repairing capacity of tissue
  • Fibroblasts in aged tissue can stop proliferating and growing, leading to a gradual reduction in total cell numbers
[Journal of Cell Science 123, 4195-420, 2010, The extracellular matrix at a glance / TiBMB- Regenerative Medicine”, Tissue Regeneration and Importance of ECMs]

Aging - 4. Aging of the skin

1) Aging of the skin
The skin is the component of the human body that is most exposed to the environment and a conspicuous visual indicator of an individual’s age and health. As the skin ages, exposure to sunlight and other factors result in the loss of collagen and hyaluronic acid (HA) in the dermal ECM and fibroblasts. The reduction in these components and cell numbers leads to the appearance of wrinkling and rough skin.
2) Fibroblasts
Fibroblasts are cells that play an important role in the protective function of the skin.

Fibroblasts synthesize collagen and hyaluronic acid, both of which are key extracellular matrix (ECM) components. Fibroblasts play a very important role in forming a structural framework within body tissues, and specialize in the maintenance of homeostasis by maintaining tissue integrity.

Some fibroblasts transform into adipocytes (fat cells) beneath the epidermis and dermis, helping the skin to appear more plump and youthful.

As the body ages and exposure to sunlight increases, the number and extent to which these fibroblasts proliferate decreases.
3) Structural Features of the Aged skin
Aged skin is characterized by the following structural features:
  • Loss of rete ridges and dermal papilla between the epidermis and dermis
  • Reductions and qualitative changes in collagen and elastin and elastin
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Weakening of adhesion between the epidermis and dermis
  • Increase in the skin’s surface area
  • Loss of capillary loops of dermal papillae
  • Prolongation of the time required to replace epidermal cells
  • Reduced secretive capacity of sweat glands and oil glands
  • Drier skin
  • Increased pore sizes
  • Reduced immune function

Aging - 5. Aging of Joints

1) Effects of aging on the musculoskeletal system
As the body ages, the changes that take place in the cartilage and connective tissue can affect the body’s joints. The cartilage within joints becomes thinner and components of the cartilage such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, and proteoglycans decline and degenerate, resulting in loss of joint flexibility and increased vulnerability to damage from external pressure. Osteoarthritis occurs when the articular cartilage components can no longer slide over each other’s surface, causing pain. Connective tissue, comprising the ligaments and tendons, will stiffen and weaken, leaving joints more rigid and vulnerable. These changes limit the joint’s ability to move.
Cartilaginous tissue and cartilage ECM within joints
  • Cartilage ECM
    • Collagen type II, IX, XI → tensile strength
    • Aggrecan → compressive stiffness
    • Integrin Receptor → Cell-ECM Interactions
  • The reduction in functional cartilage cells and degeneration of ECM components accompanied by aging reduces the flexibility of the joint, causing damage and pain
[Frontiers in Genetics. Fellows et al. Adipose-Derived MSCs for Cartilage Repair. December2016-Volume7. Article213]
2) Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Arthritis)
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, arises from gradual damage to the cartilage protecting the joint, or damage to the bone or ligament which comprises the joint, causing inflammation and pain. It is the most common of all inflammatory diseases within the joint. Osteoarthritis most often occurs in the elderly, with clinical findings from radiographic inspections reporting that 80% of the elderly have degenerative arthritis.
Degeneration of articular cartilage and biochemical changes within cartilage cells
  • The major biochemical factor causing degeneration in the articular cartilage is the inability to balance anabolism and catabolism between ECM components such as type II collagen and proteoglycan.
[Molecular Cell Biology Newletter-2016-04, Ajou University Department of Pharmacology, Immune System Aging and Arthritis Laboratory]

Aging - 6. Aging of hair follicles

1) Aging of the scalp
Alopecia senilis, commonly referred to as hair loss, is closely associated with aging. Each hair is in itself a complex outcome of cellular interactions. In addition to the germinal matrix cell, each hair consists of dead cells that have developed in a specific manner. The proliferative capacity of Human Hair Germinal Matrix Cells (HHGMCs) gradually begins to decrease after our mid-twenties and the rate of this decrease accelerates in our sixties.
2) Aging of HHGMC and Hair Loss
As HHGMCs begin to age, the growth phase of the hair becomes shorter. ​ The growth phase refers to the process during which hair matrix cells undergo active cell division to produce new hair. As the growth period shortens, hair production slows down and the hair follicle shrinks, causing the emerging hair to become thinner and gradually resulting in hair loss.
  • Process of hair production
    • HHGMCs receive nutritive components via the capillary near the hair papilla
    • Division and proliferation of the HHGMCs directly leads to the production of new cells and hair growth
    • These cells gradually move further away from the capillary, and are pushed outside the skin before undergoing programmed cell death
    • The cells desiccate after they emerge from the scalp, forming hair
Hair Structure
Hair Growth Cycle


Pipeline status

Key Value-Drivers of HaplnScience’s Pipeline
  • A new therapeutic paradigm for the treatment of diseases with significant unmet needs that naturally occur with aging
    • Normalization of the extracellular matrix structure and rejuvenation of the aged cells
  • Maintenance of a long term monopoly position
    • Difficulties in appearance of replaceable drugs due to their innovative mechanisms
    • Preoccupying the leadership in the development of improved similar products
  • Accelerated development of a series of novel therapies as part of an innovative platform technology approach
    • New therapies to treat aging and degeneration of the extracellular matrix.
Diseases that arise from the inevitable aging of connective tissue
  • As the body ages, the connective tissue in each organ weakens, causing a broad range of diseases. Treating the weakened connective tissue is thus considered the most important factor in addressing many geriatric diseases.
    However, these types of fundamental treatments have largely proven elusive to drug researchers.
    By seeking to normalize the aging connective tissues, HaplnScience will provide a new approach to the treatment of connective tissue degeneration.

Novel drug that treats the root cause of osteoarthritis

  • TGF-β signaling is a core physiological and pathological factor involved in the emergence and potential treatment of osteoarthritis.
    In order to treat and prevent osteoarthritis, it is imperative that Smad2/3 pathway is selectively activated. HS-101 is being developed as a promising first-in-class drug with this mechanism
HS-101 has the potential to become a fundamental DMOAD through the effects of improvement of the symptoms of osteoarthritis and cartilage recovery

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Drug

  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a respiratory disease that causes obstructed airflow, accompanying pulmonary tissue damage and abnormal inflammatory response, likely leading to emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. Aging and smoking are the most common causes of COPD.
  • As current COPD treatments focus on symptom relief such as relieving inflammation and bronchial dilation, there is a high unmet medical need for fundamental treatment that can regenerate and restore damaged pulmonary tissue.
  • HS-401 is believed to be the fundamental therapy to normalize lung function by strengthening ECM integrity of pulmonary tissues leading to restoring damaged & degenerated elastin fibers.
Act on COPD-induced damaged pulmonary tissue → Restore the productivity of elastin fibers inducing their proliferation

Novel drug that rejuvenates aging skin

Botulinum Toxin vs HA Filler vs HAPLN1
  • Botox and hyaluronic fillers are known for their efficacy in the treatment of wrinkles. However, they have the following problems:
    • Patients can have an unnatural appearance
    • Requires top-up surgical procedures every 3 to 6 months
    • Repeated procedures cause inconvenience and pain
  • HS-201 will fundamentally improve upon these problems by:
    1. Returning the skin to its young, natural and healthy state
    2. Reducing the inconvenience of multiple surgical procedures
    3. Maintaining the improved appearance of the skin for a sustained period of time.
HS-201 has direct effects on the skin ECM, treating wrinkles by reinforcing skin’s natural tissue structure, leading to tissue recovery.

Novel drug to stimulate hair regrowth

Human Hair Germinal Matrix Cell (HHGMC)
  • Hair loss can be caused by various factors. But these factors share one common outcome in that they cause the hair follicles to shrink, which hinders the growth of strong hair.
    HS-301 induces the proliferation of HHGMCs, the cells responsible for hair growth. This leads to the rapid return of hair follicles to their normal state, enabling strong and sturdy hair growth. For this reason, HS-301 is expected to become the drug of choice for long-term treatment of hair loss, regardless of the cause.
HS-301 directly induces hair production by reinvigorating and propagating the HHGMCs which are directly responsible for hair growth


Our vision & values

Core values


Hak Bae (Hubert) Choi

Chief Executive Officer

  • 1985~2011 JW Pharmaceuticals
  • 2011~2015 CEO of C&C Research Labs
  • 2016~2018 CEO, President of Korea Kolmar
  • Business Development
  • R&D for first in class
  • Graduated from College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University
  • Completed Graduate School of Healthcare Industry at Sejong University

Dae Kyong Kim

Chief Science Officer

  • Chairman of Korean Association of Pharmacy Education
  • Chairman of Committee on Life and Welfare, National Science and Technology Commission
  • Research Associate, Renal Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital Institute, Harvard Medical School
  • Professor of College of Pharmacy at Chung-Ang University/Laboratory of Protein Chemistry
  • Undergraduate, College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University
  • Master, Department of Biosafety Chemistry, Graduate School of Pharmacy, Seoul National University
  • Doctorate, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Tokyo

Leadership - Key Personnel

Yo Kyung Chung
Senior Vice President,Ph.D.
  • Hanmi Pharm. – Sanofi Quantum Project Leader
  • Green Cross – Global Project Leader, Process Development Leader
  • Daewoong Pharm. – Principal Researcher
  • Ph.D. of Biotechnology, Ajou University
  • Master Degree of Life Science , Korea University
Jong Hong Hyun
Vice President
  • Avixgen Chief of Management office
  • Eluon Head of Finance Team
  • Korea Data systems Finance Team member
  • Graduated from Department of Accounting at Kyungpook National University
Na Young Park
Vice President
  • HLB LifeScience, Co., Ltd. – BD Director
  • Beaumed Co., Ltd. – Senior Manager
  • Kunil, Penmix – BD team leader
  • JW Holdings, Choongwae Pharma Co.,
  • - License, Global Business Team Leader
  • Graduated Kyung Hee University, College of Science
Won Mook Kim
Non-executive director
  • CEO of Aging Life Sciences
  • KGII (Korea Genetic Information Institute), QuBest Bio Non-executive director
  • COO of Sangjin trading company
  • Graduated Seoul National University, College of Pharmacy
Gang Se Lee
Vice President
  • Professional angel investor
  • I-sens. Inc Planning and sales director
  • Korea Biotech Investment Capital, Head of the Investment Team
  • Master's degree in Animal Resource Science at Seoul National University
Chihwa Kim
Vice president, PhD
  • GC Pharma, QM/QA Qualified Person
  • MOGAM Biotechnology institute, Senior Researcher/Project Leader
  • University of Louisville Stem cell Program, Post Doctor
  • Samsung Biomedical Research
  • Institute, Post Doctor
  • Seoul National University, College of Medicine, Immunology, PhD
Dr. med. Yohan Lim, M.D.
Vice President
  • Clinomics Inc. Cancer Institute – Team Leader
  • ITREN, Research Prof. at Dankook Univ.
  • SIMS, Research Prof. at Soonchunhyang Univ.
  • Severance Hospital.– Co-development of Dong-A Pharm..
  • Doctor of Medicine at RWTA Aachen School of Medicine, Germany

Leadership - Advisory Board

Dr. Jin Keon Pai
  • 1ST Biotherapeutics, Inc. Senior Advisor
  • Handok Pharmaceuticals Co., LTD Senior Advisor
  • C&C Research Labs. CEO/Executive Vice President
  • Senior Principal Scientist, Schering-Plough Research Institute
  • Ph. D. of Pharmaceutical Biochemistry
  • School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Prof. Dong Ho Lee, MD, MBA
  • Professor of Medicine at Ulsan University
  • CEO of the Korea Drug Development Fund
  • Director of the Clinical Research Center at Asan Medical Center
  • Business unit head at Samyang
  • Medical Director, VP of GSK Korea
Prof. Song Yong Park
  • Professor of The Division of Bioscience and Technology at Yonsei University
  • Research Director, Mogam Biotech Research Institute
  • Executive Director, Green Cross Research Center
  • Graduated from Seoul National University Department of Microbiology, doctorate from Ajou University Department of Biotechnology
Prof. Kwang Hoon Lee, M.D. & Ph.D
  • Emeritus Professor, Department of Dermatology, Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • Director, Medical Science Research Affairs, Yonsei University
  • President, Korean Society for Investigative Dermatology
  • Chairman, Board of Directors, Korean Dermatological Association
  • President, Korean Atopic Dermatitis Association
  • Board of Directors, International Eczema Council
  • Member of National Academy of Medicine of Korea
Prof. Sang-Heon Lee, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Chairman of Dept. of Internal Medicine, Konkuk University School of Medicine
  • Associate Professor, Dept. of Internal Medicine, Kangnam St. Mary’s hospital, the Catholic University of Korea
  • Postdoctoral research fellow(Dr. Firestein Lab), Division of Rheumatology, University of California, San Diego
  • Director of Planning, Director of Finance, Editorial Chief of Korean College of Rheumatology
  • Consultant Physician, Chief of Rheumatic Disease Section, Human Insurance Reimbursement Agency, Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Board Member of Central Drug Review Boards, Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA)
  • Chief, Auto-immune Research Society [- Korean Society of Immunology]
Prof. Yong Bum Park, M.D.
  • Professor, Department of Pulmonary and Critical care Medicine, Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital Hallym University, Korea
  • Associate Professor, Department of Pulmonary and Critical care Medicine, Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital Hallym University, Korea
  • Fellowship of Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine, Dept. of Medicine, Medical Center Ulsan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • The Asian Pacific Society of Respirology
  • The Korean Academy of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases
  • The Korean Association of Internal Medicine


하플사이언스, 골관절염치료제 전임상 착수

하플사이언스가 설립 후 처음 주력 파이프라인인 골관절염(퇴행성관절염)치료제 신약 후보물질의 전임상에 착수한다. 당초 올해 2분기에 전임상을 시작하는 일정이었으나 보다 개발에 속도를 높이는 모습이다...

하플사이언스, HAPLN1 통해 항노화 치료 새 장 개척"

하플사이언스가 HAPLN1을 통해 항노화 치료의 새로운 장을 열고 있어 주목된다. HAPLN1(Hyaluronan And Proteoglycan Link Protein 1)은 TGF-β 시그널링을 활성화해 히알루론산, 콜라겐, 아그레칸의 생성을 증가시키는 인체 내 단백질이다....


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