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Week in Review: Cellular Biomedicine In-licenses Cancer Immunotherapy from China
Deals and Financings
Cellular Biomedicine Group (NSDQ: CBMG), a China-US cell therapy company, acquired CAR-T cancer immunotherapy technology from the Chinese PLA General Hospital (the 301 hospital) of Beijing (see story). The two groups will form a partnership for further development of the products in China. The PLA Hospital has already conducted early clinical trials of the technology on CD19-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia, CD20-positive lymphoma, CD30-positive Hodgkin's lymphoma and EGFR-HER1-positive advanced lung cancer. The data from the Phase I and II trials is included in the deal.
ACT Genomics Co., a Taipei company that makes cancer diagnostic tests, raised $8 million in a first round funding (see story). Using next-gen sequencing and multiplex molecular testing platforms, ACT claims it can analyze a tumor and detect variations in more than 400 cancer-related genes. With the information, ACT can suggest the most appropriate personalized cancer treatment.
NeuroVive (STO: NVP), a Swedish clinical-stage pharma focused on drugs that protect mitochondrial function, established a subsidiary in Taiwan and raised $3.3 million for the venture (see story). The company previously announced it would IPO the new company, NeuroVive Pharmaceutical Asia, Inc., on the Taiwan stock exchange. NeuroVive Asia holds the Asian rights (ex-China) to NeuroVive's two clinical stage projects, which address cerebral-cardiovascular problems. In 2012, NeuroVive out-licensed China rights for the drugs to Sihuan Pharma (HK: 0460).
The GPCR Consortium, a nonprofit US-China research collaboration, has added two new pharma members: Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) and Merck (NYSE: MRK) (see story). The academic members of the Consortium -- the Bridge Institute at the University of Southern California, the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, and the iHuman Institute at ShanghaiTech University -- remain the same. The Consortium's goal is to fully characterize the structure and function of 200 GPCRs, placing their findings in the public domain, with a goal of improving drug discovery. The companies underwrite the research performed at the academic institutes.
Crown Bioscience, a US-China preclinical CRO, has extended its partnership with the National Resource Center for Mutant Mice (NRCMM) to build experimental immune-oncology mouse models along with models for diabetes and inflammation (see story). NRCMM was established by the US National Institute of Health and has a China commercial branch, the Nanjing Biotech Innovation Corporation. Crown Bioscience is headquartered in California with labs in Beijing, Taicang, the UK and North Carolina.
Response Biomedical (TO: RBM) of Vancouver has granted Shanghai Elite Biotech an exclusive license to distribute its RAMP® cardiovascular point-of-care test in all of mainland China (see story). For more than a year, Elite has been distributing the portfolio in an unspecified number of eastern and southern China provinces. Response Bio was pleased with the uptick in sales in the areas and has expanded the agreement.
Trials and Approvals
Hua Medicine of Shanghai announced positive results from a China Phase Ib trial of HMS5552 (sinogliatin) in patients with diabetes (see story). The molecule is a novel oral 4th-generation glucokinase activator (GKA) for Type 2 diabetes that Hua in-licensed from Roche (SIX: ROG) in 2011. In the trial, sinogliatin provided patients with 24-hour glucose control of both fasting plasma glucose and post-meal glucose levels, something that usually requires two separate drugs. Hua expects to start a China Phase II trial and to complete a US Phase I trial of sinogliatin before the end of 2015.
In China's largest pivotal trial ever -- 21, 000 people -- Qiagen's (NSDQ: QGEN) TB test showed the incidence of latent TB infection in China's population is 18.8% (see story). That was far lower than the 28.8% indicated by the century-old TB skin test, which registered many false positives. The QuantiFERON-TB Gold (QFT®) test, an interferon-gamma release assay, was approved for use in China in 2013. By lowering the estimate of China's at-risk population, the test renders a TB preventative program more feasible. Qiagen is headquartered in the Netherlands.