Deals and Financings
Sino Biopharma (HK: 1177) will make an investment of up to $128.5 million in Karolinska Development AB (SS: KDEV), a Stockholm firm that supports translational drug development in Scandinavia (see story). Typically, Karolinska invests in innovative academic-based concepts, bringing them to a point where they can be partnered. It currently has at least a dozen companies in its portfolio. According to Karolinska, it wanted to have a "strong Asian specialist investor" in life science, with the clear implication that future deals would be made between the two companies.
BioNano Genomics of San Diego raised $53 million in a Series C funding, which was led by Beijing's Legend Capital and the Novartis Venture Fund (see story). BioNano makes the Irys™ long-read genome mapping device. The Irys platform detects a genome's structural variations -- insertions, deletions, inversions, translocations and repeats -- variations that BioNano calls the "inaccessible genome." Irys is intended to be used in tandem with genomic sequencers.
Yabao Pharma (SHA: 600351) in-licensed greater China rights to a Parkinson's disease kinase target from MRC Technology of the UK (see story). MRC Tech describes itself as a charity that operates as a technology transfer unit for the UK's Medical Research Council. After identifying projects with further potential, MRC Tech offers IP management and R&D. MRC Tech will retain rights to the target outside of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
3SBio in-licensed rights to Tanibirumab, a cancer antibody developed by PharmAbcine, a Korean biotech (see story). Tanibirumab is a VEGFR2/KDR antibody with an anti-angiogenesis mechanism. 3SBio will own rights to the molecule for Greater China and emerging countries Thailand, Brazil and Russia. PharmAbcine was spun out of the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, a government-backed organization.
Lee's Pharm (HK; 0950) of Hong Kong partnered with Ikaria, a US company, to register and market Ikaria's Inomax®Total Care package in greater China (see story). Inomax, an inhaled nitric oxide, is a vasodilator that treats hypoxic respiratory failure in infants greater than 34 weeks of gestational age. It is the only therapy approved by the US FDA for the condition. Terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
Amgen (NSDQ: AMGN) has finished building its new $200 million next-generation biomanufacturing facility in Singapore, ushering in a new era for the company (see story). The plant features a continuous manufacturing model that replaces biotech's traditional batch processing. Robert Bradway, Amgen's Chairman and CEO, earlier claimed the technology cuts costs dramatically: capital costs by 75%, operating expenses by 67% and manufacturing time by 50% -- overall, continuous manufacturing reduces the cost per gram of protein by 60%, he said.
Government and Regulatory
At last week's G-20 summit in Beijing, the leaders of the world's largest economies signed a trade agreement to cut tariffs and duties on medical devices, a pact that would eliminate import taxes that can be as high as 8% in China (see story). The new agreement extends an existing treaty, the World Trade Organization's Information Technology Agreement, to new industries, which now includes medical devices such as high-end imaging equipment along with non-medical additions such as computer software, GPS devices and semiconductors.
Trials and Approvals
Suzhou Connect Biopharma has begun a Phase I clinical trial in Australia of CBP-307, an orally active molecule aimed at autoimmune diseases (see story). CBP-307 is a second generation moderator of the S1P1 G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR). S1P1 is a proven drug target for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease. According to Suzhou Connect, CBP-307 demonstrated fewer side effects in preclinical testing than the presently marketed S1P1 agonist.
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