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Two Biotech Companies Receive “Most Promising Company” Awards in Hong Kong

publication date: Mar 23, 2009
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD

The two-day ChinaBio® Investor Forum held in Hong Kong was a huge success, according to its host, the Hong Kong Science & Technology Park, and the event’s organizer ChinaBio® LLC. Seventeen early to mid-stage companies presented at the event, all of them from the Pearl River Delta region, an area that includes Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. A panel made up of venture capitalists active in the area and business development executives from major pharmaceutical companies selected GeneHarbor Technologies Limited and Sinoasis Pharma, Ltd. as recipients of the two “Most Promising Company” awards.

The event was the first ChinaBio® Investor Forum to be held in the Hong Kong Science & Technology Park at the very dramatic “Golden Egg” auditorium, which was opened two years ago as part of Phase II of the park. The Forum was held March 19-20. The goal of the Forum was to showcase early stage biotechnology from the Pearl River Delta, and to encourage investment in these companies and the Hong Kong area, leading ultimately to greater commercialization of biotechnology research. It attracted companies in the areas of early stage biotechnology, diagnostics, medical device and service companies.

Approximately 220 life science executives attended the Forum. The group included representatives from venture capital firms such as Morningside, Qiming, Fidelity, Spring Capital, Ventac Partners, and Lilly Ventures, and big pharma firms including Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), Roche (VS: ROG), Merck (NYSE: MRK) and Lilly (NYSE: LLY).

Award Winners

“We were very pleased with the high caliber of all the presenting companies,” stated Greg Scott, President and founder of ChinaBio® Accelerator. “While it was a very difficult for our panel of judges to select only two to receive the ChinaBio® Most Promising Company Awards, Sinoasis and GeneHarbor were chosen to receive as the best of the best early stage life science companies in the Pearl River Delta region.” The awards were presented by E. Anthony Tan, CEO of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, which sponsored the awards.

Sinoasis Pharma, Ltd., founded in 2003 and located in Guangzhou, uses a yeast genetic system to generate human antibody/domain libraries. The company is initially focusing on validated targets in disease areas including cancer and coronary heart disease. Some programs address diseases with no known effective treatment (new-in-class), and other programs are developing treatments with greater efficacy and less toxicity (best-in-class). Sinoasis’ most advanced candidate is in Phase II trials for coronary heart disease and other thrombosis events.

Sinoasis says that its yeast system offers speed and cost advantages. The company is seeking to use its human antibody technology platform to provide out-sourcing services for other biopharmas, as well as to develop its own therapeutic products. Sinoasis’ long-term objective is to be a leader in the generation, development, and commercialization of fully human antibody/domain or derived products for human therapeutics and diagnostics.

Dr. Shengfeng Li is interim CEO of Sinoasis. His research has focused on the development of human antibody/domains selection and the application of engineering technology to human disease diagnostics and therapeutics. Before Sinoasis, Dr. Li was a co-founder and founding Chief Scientific Officer of Abmaxis, Inc., California, which was acquired by Merck. At Abmaxis, he pioneered development of a novel genetic system for human antibody screening and selection.

GeneHarbor (Hong Kong) Technologies Limited is a biotechnology company that develops and manufactures novel enzymes for the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, food and biomass ethanol industries. Formed in 2000, GeneHarbor has five pharmaceutical/nutraceutical products already in production or soon to begin manufacturing. Each one of the five is being developed in partnership with an outside firm. GeneHarbor has also developed an enzyme optimization technology platform, which the company says is highly effective in generating novel products tailored for industrial, agricultural, pharmaceutical and environmental application.

Jun Wang, PhD is the company’s Chairman and CEO. Before joining GeneHarbor in 2003, Dr. Wang was Professor at the Biochemistry Department, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Dr. Wang holds a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has over 30 years of R&D experience in universities, the private sector and government labs. He has also served as Senior Consultant for a number of publicly listed pharmaceutical companies, and was the first Innovation and Technology Chair of Hong Kong SAR.



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