Deals and Financings
BioPacific Investors, an angel group comprised of experienced US investors and life science executives, has been formed to invest in US and European life science companies that plan to build their China/Asia operations (see story). The group expects that its investments, which will range from $250,000 to $1 million, will usually be the first outside funding for a company.
Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM) will form a cancer-focused collaboration with Crown Bioscience (see story). As a first step, the two entities will build the world’s largest mouse clinical trial center by combining their collections of patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models. Then, using Crown’s oncology discovery and translational capabilities, the center will accelerate development of SIMM’s oncology drug candidates. Crown is a US-headquartered CRO with its lab operations in China.
Cardinal Health (NYSE: CAH), the second largest drug/medical device distributor in the US, purchased a majority interest in Guangzhou Baiji Xinte Drug Store (see story). Both companies confirmed the transaction, though no details have been released. Guangzhou Baiji Xinte has 19 retail drug stores in China. Cardinal, which uses M&A to establish regional footholds, seems determined to become a major player in the rollup of China’s highly fragmented drug distribution industry.
Lee's Pharmaceutical (HK: 950), a China drugmaker, found a partner to market its topical short-term anesthesia product in the US (see story). Marathon Pharmaceuticals signed a 10-year exclusive US licensing agreement for Zingo® (lidocaine hydrochloride monohydrate) powder intradermal injection system. Zingo, with an onset of action of just one to three minutes, is used to allay the pain of a needlestick procedure. Usually, Lee’s is in the news for in-licensing products from the west; Zingo is its first product to be taken back to the US.
Guangzhou Pharmaceutical (SHA: 600332), the controlling shareholder of Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharma, will establish a JV with Dr. Ferid Murad, a biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998 (see story). Dr. Murad showed that nitric oxide played a role in the cell signaling process that causes vascular dilation. He continues to work on nitric oxide as a treatment for cancer and arthritis. The JV will be known as Wanglaoji & Murad Biotechnology Co., Ltd.
ShangPharma, one of China’s largest CROs, signed an exclusive China license agreement with Mabspace International to specific Mabspace antigens and technology for CRO use in antibody discovery (see story). Founded in 2011, Mabspace discovers novel fast follow-on antibody-based therapeutic agents that target chronic kidney diseases, cancer and autoimmune disorders. Mabspace is headquartered in Hong Kong with a mainland subsidiary in Suzhou BioBay.
Trials and Approvals
Nanjing Frontier Biotechnologies began a Phase III trial of its novel HIV-treatment, albuvitide (see story). Albuvirtide, a synthetic peptide, is a long-acting fusion inhibitor that prevents HIV from entering cells. It will be tested as a second-line HIV treatment among patients who have developed resistance to antiretroviral treatments. Frontier, which will administer albuvitide on a once-weekly schedule, owns global IP to the drug.
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