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Week in Review: BGI’s CEO Says Science Drives Collaborations
In an exclusive interview with ChinaBio® Today, Dr. Jun Wang, CEO of BGI, the world’s largest sequencing company, disclosed that the driving force behind the company’s many collaborations is always the science. “We are a dream-driven organization,” he says. The dream is the promise of genomic science to improve human life, and BGI seems willing to enter any partnership that will advance genomic science, even if it doesn’t necessarily represent a profit opportunity (see story). BGI works with many big pharmas and has established several major international partnerships.
Deals and Financings
BGI, the world’s largest gene sequencing company, closed its $118 million acquisition of Complete Genomics (see story). Complete Genomics is a Silicon Valley company that specializes in whole human genome sequencing. BGI purchased all of Complete's outstanding common shares at $3.15 each, and it will operate Complete as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Dr. Clifford Reid will remain its CEO.
Roche Holding (VX: ROG) has stepped up as one of the bidders for Life Technologies (NSDQ: LIFE), the US maker of lab equipment and research products, according to a Reuters article (see story). Roche has hired bankers to give it advice as it prepares for an April due date for bidders. Both companies are active in the diagnostics area, and both consider China an important part of their future.
Hony Capital, the China-based private equity firm that is backed by the conglomerate Legend Holdings, will support Simcere’s (NYSE: SCR) $506 million privatization offer (see story). Simcere’s Chairman, Ren Jinsheng, announced a bid for the Nanjing pharma on March 13. Hony, which made its first Simcere investment in 2005, currently owns 17% of the company. The company has not disclosed the size of its financial commitment.
OriGene Technologies of Maryland has raised $21.3 million in a C round that was led by two China-focused venture funds: Qiming and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers China (see story). OriGene is a research tool company that offers an extensive portfolio of full-length human cDNAs in a standard expression vector. Although OriGene is headquartered close to Washington DC, it has three facilities in China.
BGI and H3 Biomedicine of Cambridge, MA will collaborate to develop genomic sequencing data from pre-clinical cancer models (see story). The research is designed to identify and validate recurrent gene mutations that are potential targets for drug therapies. BGI and H3 will share their findings with the global research community after the data analysis is completed. Earlier this week,
Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) officially opened the Lilly Global IT Innovations Lab in Dalian this week (see story). The lab will provide a platform from which Lilly and its drug development partners – in China and across the globe – can collaborate freely. Lilly said the Global IT Innovations Lab would support its China investment and its operations globally.
Trials and Approvals
Lipotecan®, an innovative liver cancer drug developed by Taiwan Liposome Company (TW: 4152), was accepted into the SFDA’s Green Path program, a fast-track approval process (see story). TLC said Lipotecan is a new chemical entity with multiple mechanisms of action against tumors that has shown positive results in ex-China Phase II trials. TLC expects to start a China Phase II trial later this year.
Amoy Diagnostics, a Xiamen maker of in vitro diagnostics, was given SFDA permission to market its EML4-ALK Fusion Gene Detection Kit in China (see story). The assay detects 21 different fusion products from rearrangements of the EML4 and ALK genes. The activity of the EML4-ALK fusion oncogene, a recently discovered molecular target in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), can be inhibited by small-molecule inhibitors such as Xalkori from Pfizer (NYSE: PFE).
Antisense Therapeutics (ASX: ANP), an Australian biopharma, has contracted with Pharmaron to conduct a toxicology study of ATL1102, a multiple sclerosis drug (see story). The company hopes to stage a China Phase IIb trial of the drug in China in partnership with Tianjin International Joint Academy of Biotechnology and Medicine (TJAB). The two entities extended the deadline for establishing a JV to develop ATL1102 until September 30, 2013,