A pho­to log of my week in Shang­hai, host­ing the first an­nu­al US-Chi­na Bio­phar­ma In­no­va­tion and In­vest­ment Sum­mit

I’ve re­turned from a week in Shang­hai af­ter host­ing our first BI­IS con­fer­ence in Chi­na. It was ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly suc­cess­ful from my stand­point as the chief ex­ec­u­tive here at End­points News. (Yes, we’ll be re­turn­ing even big­ger in 2019.) This year we were joined by 250 del­e­gates who came to par­tic­i­pate in two days of meet­ings fea­tur­ing some of the most rec­og­niz­able names in the biotech world — which is led firm­ly by the Unit­ed States and Chi­na now.

The BI­IS con­fer­ence was cre­at­ed from scratch to gath­er bio­phar­ma lead­ers from around the world in an ul­tra-mod­ern fo­rum con­duct­ed in both Eng­lish and Chi­nese. Re­al­time trans­la­tions were pro­vid­ed in both lan­guages. The goal was to pro­vide com­mon space for serendip­i­tous ac­tion and part­ner­ship be­tween del­e­gates and speak­ers. Thanks to the hard work by the joint team at End­points and Pharm­cube, that vi­sion be­came a re­al­i­ty this week.

John Car­roll’s fire­side chat with Fa­heem Has­nain


Vivek Ra­maswamy lis­tens to re­al-time trans­la­tion of Dr. Jin­hui Gu’s keynote


Nisa Le­ung of Qim­ing Ven­tures de­liv­ers her keynote ad­dress 


Karen Liu, founder of 3E BioVen­tures, ad­dress­es del­e­gates


Grace Lu of Rus­sell Reynolds mod­er­ates a pan­el on the chal­lenges of re­cruit­ing tal­ent in this com­pet­i­tive bio­phar­ma mar­ket


Mem­bers of the End­points team at gala din­ner


I want­ed to give read­ers some brief im­pres­sions along­side a lengthy vi­su­al log in­to what the sum­mit was like. I’ll start with of­fi­cial pic­tures from the con­fer­ence and mix in some shots from my per­son­al iPhone as well to­ward the end.

by Ar­salan Arif


John Oyler BeiGene


John Oyler, the Amer­i­can CEO and founder of Chi­na-based Beigene, is a true pi­o­neer in the US-Chi­na bio­phar­ma sphere, and as such we se­lect­ed him as one of our chair­peo­ple for the BI­IS sum­mit. He kicked off the pro­ceed­ings with a keynote and took meet­ings at BI­IS through­out the day, stay­ing for the gala din­ner Mon­day evening.

Two things he said stuck out to me: 1) Chi­na will be the top coun­try for bio­med­ical clin­i­cal re­search in the near fu­ture, full stop; and 2) Chi­na en­ables an al­ter­na­tive busi­ness mod­el for bio­phar­ma where com­pa­nies no longer have to re­ly on ex­ist­ing US pric­ing schemes to be vi­able.


John Car­roll End­points News


Our own John Car­roll was up next. He has over one mil­lion words on the record over his 15 years of biotech cov­er­age. Over the course of the week I met count­less Chi­nese bio­phar­ma ex­ec­u­tives who re­count­ed sto­ries to me when they first start­ed read­ing John Car­roll. As long­time read­ers know, both John and I were at a pre­vi­ous com­pa­ny, pub­lish­ing un­der a dif­fer­ent ban­ner, pri­or to found­ing End­points News in June 2016. It was in­spir­ing to hear how many ex­ec­u­tives John has helped learn the ins and outs of bio­phar­ma from his cov­er­age ear­ly in their ca­reers, and now them­selves have moved in­to the ranks of peo­ple John and his team of ed­i­tors at End­points cov­er. John has been say­ing “Chi­na is com­ing” for eight years now. Chi­na has ful­ly ar­rived. There’s tremen­dous pro­fes­sion­al sat­is­fac­tion in be­ing on the ground, in full force, cov­er­ing it for our read­ers now.


Leon Chen 6 Di­men­sions


Chair­ing day two is one of the most in­flu­en­tial Chi­nese ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists in the world: Leon Chen, the found­ing part­ner and CEO of 6 Di­men­sions Cap­i­tal, the prod­uct of a re­cent merg­er of Front­line BioVen­tures and WuXi Ven­tures.

Dr. Chen is a mem­ber of the Ex­pert Re­view Pan­el for the Chi­nese Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment’s “1000 Tal­ents Pro­ject” and thus has keen in­sights in­to the re­cent phe­nom­e­non of Chi­nese tal­ent com­ing back af­ter train­ing and get­ting a foothold in Amer­i­ca. He’s led a num­ber of in­vest­ments in the life sci­ences, in­clud­ing Curon, Hua Med­i­cine, In­novent, Ada­gene, and many more. If you read End­points News, Leon Chen is a reg­u­lar fix­ture when we re­port on the lat­est star­tups out of both Chi­na and the Unit­ed States.


Mingde Yu 于明德 Chair­man, Chi­nese Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal En­ter­pris­es As­so­ci­a­tion

Jin­hui Gu 顾金辉 Di­rec­tor, Of­fice of Ma­jor Drug De­vel­op­ment


We were de­light­ed to host two ma­jor fig­ures from Chi­na’s key cen­tral gov­ern­ment func­tions. No un­der­stand­ing of Chi­na is com­plete with­out the per­spec­tive of these se­nior lead­ers and how they view this cur­rent mo­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of Chi­na’s bio­phar­ma in­dus­try. For Eng­lish-on­ly BI­IS at­ten­dees, re­al-time trans­la­tions were key, as one of our cen­tral goals was to make every part of the con­fer­ence ac­ces­si­ble to all re­gard­less of lan­guage.

Mingde Yu de­liv­ered a keynote on Mon­day morn­ing which cen­tered around the re­mark­able progress be­ing made in Chi­na. He’s cur­rent­ly the chair­man of the Chi­nese Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal En­ter­pris­es As­so­ci­a­tion, pre­vi­ous­ly hav­ing been in mul­ti­ple lead­er­ship roles in key cen­tral gov­ern­ment func­tions.

And on Tues­day we heard from Dr. Jin­hui Gu, di­rec­tor of the Na­tion­al Health Com­mis­sion’s Na­tion­al Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Ma­jor Pro­jects for New Drug De­vel­op­ment. He ad­min­is­ters a gov­ern­ment grant pro­gram of 33 bil­lion RMB which sup­ports al­most every new drug de­vel­op­ment pro­gram that has re­ceived mar­ket ap­proval in re­cent years. With more than 15 years work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in Chi­na’s high­est reg­u­la­to­ry agen­cies, he made it clear that there is a clear man­date for Chi­nese-led in­no­v­a­tive drug de­vel­op­ment right from the top. And while much progress has been made, we’re still in the ear­ly days of Chi­na’s con­tri­bu­tion here.


Fred Co­hen Vi­da Ven­tures


Fred Co­hen, the co-founder and se­nior man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Vi­da Ven­tures, de­liv­ered an in­spir­ing keynote ad­dress on Mon­day morn­ing which cen­tered around en­tre­pre­neur­ship and the lessons Chi­nese bio­phar­ma in­vestors might learn from the US bio­phar­ma ven­ture ex­pe­ri­ence.

As many in our au­di­ence know, on top of his in­vest­ing ca­reer Dr. Co­hen was at UCSF from 1980-2014 hold­ing mul­ti­ple re­spon­si­bil­i­ties rang­ing from re­search sci­en­tist to chief of en­docrinol­o­gy and me­tab­o­lism. He’s pub­lished over 200 peer re­view ar­ti­cles, and was elect­ed to the In­sti­tute of Med­i­cine and Na­tion­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences in 2004, and the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Arts and Sci­ences in 2008. He’s keen­ly in­ter­est in Chi­na and we had a great chat about the CRO busi­ness in Asia-Pa­cif­ic and just how much it dif­fers from what we see state­side. (Hint: They’re crit­i­cal­ly im­por­tant to the bio­phar­ma in­fra­struc­ture in Chi­na, much more so than what we see state­side.)


Nisa Le­ung Qim­ing Ven­tures


Nisa Le­ung is the man­ag­ing part­ner of one of Chi­na’s top VC firms which man­ages over US$4 bil­lion in as­sets and has in­vest­ed in over 270 com­pa­nies. Ear­li­er this year we at End­points News named her as one of the top 12 Chi­na VCs that you need to know. She point­ed­ly brought up the trade war be­tween the US and Chi­na and said al­though it will have a neg­a­tive im­pact, we need to pre­pare for a sec­ond Trump term and weath­er the storm be­cause the US-Chi­na re­la­tion­ship pre­dates and will out­last Trump.


Fa­heem Has­nain Gos­samer Bio


Fa­heem Has­nain, the ex-CEO at Re­cep­tos and now co-founder of Gos­samer Bio, had a juicy fire­side chat with John Car­roll.  He told the au­di­ence how glum the mood was in the room with his up­per man­age­ment team af­ter they had just closed the $7 bil­lion Cel­gene sale. Glum, you read that right. Fa­heem re­count­ed for the BI­IS au­di­ence in raw de­tail what John Car­roll had al­ready re­port­ed on for the on­line End­points au­di­ence back in Jan­u­ary this year, and he took it a step fur­ther in Shang­hai ex­plain­ing just why Cel­gene isn’t pleased with him these days. He’s mak­ing it as easy as pos­si­ble for tal­ent to flock back to what he and his team are do­ing at Gos­samer.


Vivek Ra­maswamy Roivant


Vivek Ra­maswamy gave one of the most provoca­tive speech­es of the sum­mit, and then im­me­di­ate­ly sat down with John Car­roll for a fire­side chat to de­fend his pre­dic­tions. His bold call that bio­phar­ma will have fig­ured out all of its “col­lec­tive ac­tion prob­lems” by 2035 in­stant­ly sent lo­cal WeChat groups abuzz with chat­ter.

Lo­cal Chi­nese in­vestors and en­tre­pre­neurs that I spoke with were keen­ly aware of the $4 bil­lion Vivek has raised for his Vants and the 34 pro­grams they’ve got in the clin­ic. Lat­er on in the day I saw him around the Four Sea­sons, hav­ing lunch with sev­er­al del­e­gates and be­ing in­ter­ro­gat­ed about his plans for Sino­vant and Data­vant.


Brad Lon­car Lon­car In­vest­ments


Brad Lon­car is well known to End­points read­ers as a con­trib­u­tor to this pub­li­ca­tion, and as a biotech an­a­lyst and in­de­pen­dent in­vestor who has cre­at­ed mul­ti­ple life sci­ences ETF prod­ucts for in­vestors — his two ini­tial prod­ucts are $CN­CR and $CHNA.


This trip was my first time to Chi­na. I could not have asked for a bet­ter part­ner than the im­pres­sive team at Pharm­cube. Pro­duc­ing an in­ter­na­tion­al event in 90 days from a stand­ing start, which is what the team above did, can on­ly be done by a group of peo­ple who gen­uine­ly en­joy work­ing to­geth­er. The cru­cible can get hot. Above, pic­tured from left to right, is Richard Wang, Jean Cheng, my­self, Am­ber Tong, Jian­hua Jiang, and Chaowei Guo. Be­low is the en­tire Pharm­cube-End­points Chi­na team.

If you haven’t been to Chi­na yet, but fol­low Chi­na with in­ter­est, the su­perla­tives that come with Shang­hai all ap­ply. It’s spec­tac­u­lar. Un­like any city I’ve ever been to. The area that our con­fer­ence was in, Pudong, was grass fields 10 years ago. Now tow­ers of spec­tac­u­lar ar­chi­tec­ture shoot to the sky, con­nect­ed with thought­ful in­fra­struc­ture at pre­cise­ly the right widths and den­si­ty.

I’m from Kansas, came of age in DC and the I-95 cor­ri­dor, been all over the West Coast, trav­eled ex­ten­sive­ly across these Unit­ed States. And we have no frame of ref­er­ence for this kind of de­vel­op­ment.

There are some pre­dic­tions which this sum­mit has gal­va­nized for me — name­ly, that Chi­na will be the num­ber one na­tion for clin­i­cal re­search in due time — and oth­er pre­dic­tions that I’m am­biva­lent on. Ei­ther way, there will be more di­a­logue and End­points News and our part­ner Pharm­cube will con­tin­ue to fa­cil­i­tate the very best high-lev­el meet­ing that US-Chi­na bio­phar­ma pro­fes­sion­als can turn to. And you can ex­pect that on an an­nu­al ba­sis.

Here’s a sun­rise view from my ho­tel room at the Four Sea­sons.

Lat­er here I’m work­ing from the 35th floor on Sat­ur­day be­fore the con­fer­ence. The views are ar­rest­ing.

There’s a qual­i­ty to it that I couldn’t quite put my fin­ger on.

Be­ing from Kansas, I’m used to “free­dom-lov­ing coun­try” where in­di­vid­u­al­ism and a right to pri­va­cy is sim­ply the de­fault. So to get bio­met­ri­cal­ly scanned up­on ar­rival at the air­port, you take no­tice. Every­thing is reg­is­tered. Every­thing. My fel­low Kansan Brad Lon­car tweet­ed about los­ing his pass­port and iPad on a bench Tues­day night af­ter our #BI­IS18 con­fer­ence con­clud­ed.

If he’d done that in NYC, prob­a­bly Kansas too, his iden­ti­ty would have been stolen and his new Ap­ple prod­uct as good as gone. In­stead the po­lice showed up the next morn­ing at his ho­tel room be­cause some­one had turned it in, and the au­thor­i­ties knew where to find Brad Lon­car.

That kind of sys­tem is new to a Kansan.

Glu­cose Biosen­sor Sys­tems CEO Har­ry Sime­oni­dis an­nounces news at the con­fer­ence


Rus­sell Reynolds Grace Lu in­tro­duces her pan­el on tal­ent re­cruit­ment


Vivek Ra­maswamy gives an ex­plain­er on his Vants


End­points founder/CEO Ar­salan Arif mod­er­ates a pan­el on what US ex­ecs want from Chi­nese deals


Janet Mc­Ni­cholas with Jones Day speaks with Vi­da Ven­tures’ Fred Co­hen


Pharm­cube’s Jean Cheng 程静 mod­er­ates a pan­el on the Chi­nese on­col­o­gy pipeline


John Car­roll and Vivek Ra­maswamy fire­side chat


Na­tal­ie Chen of the Hong Kong stock ex­change ex­plains their new rules on list­ing


John Oyler, Founder and CEO of BeiGene, de­liv­ers a keynote ad­dress


Nisa Le­ung meets with del­e­gates


UP­DAT­ED: In sur­prise switch, Bris­tol-My­ers is sell­ing off block­buster Ote­zla, promis­ing to com­plete Cel­gene ac­qui­si­tion — just lat­er

Apart from revealing its checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo blew a big liver cancer study on Monday, Bristol-Myers Squibb said its plans to swallow Celgene will require the sale of blockbuster psoriasis treatment Otezla to keep the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at bay.

The announcement — which has potentially delayed the completion of the takeover to early 2020 — irked investors, triggering the New York-based drugmaker’s shares to tumble Monday morning in premarket trading.

Celgene’s Otezla, approved in 2014 for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, is a rising star. It generated global sales of $1.6 billion last year, up from the nearly $1.3 billion in 2017. Apart from the partial overlap of Bristol-Myers injectable Orencia, the company’s rival oral TYK2 psoriasis drug is in late-stage development, after the firm posted encouraging mid-stage data on the drug, BMS-986165, last fall. With Monday’s decision, it appears Bristol-Myers is favoring its experimental drug, and discounting Otezla’s future.

The move blindsided some analysts. Credit Suisse’s Vamil Divan noted just days ago:

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Novotech CEO Dr. John Moller

Novotech CRO Award­ed Frost & Sul­li­van Best Biotech CRO Asia-Pa­cif­ic 2019

Known in the in­dus­try as the Asia-Pa­cif­ic CRO, Novotech is now lead CRO ser­vices provider for the grow­ing num­ber of in­ter­na­tion­al biotechs se­lect­ing the re­gion for their stud­ies.

Re­flect­ing this Asia-Pa­cif­ic growth, Novotech staff num­bers are up 20% since De­cem­ber 2018 to 600 in-house clin­i­cal re­search peo­ple across a full range of ser­vices, across the re­gion.

Novotech’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties have been rec­og­nized by an­a­lysts like Frost & Sul­li­van, most re­cent­ly with the pres­ti­gious Asia-Pa­cif­ic CRO Biotech of the year award for best prac­tices in clin­i­cal re­search for biotechs for the fifth year. See oth­er awards here.

Dean Hum. Nasdaq via YouTube

Gen­fit goes to Chi­na with a deal worth up to $228M for NASH drug

Fresh off the high of its Nas­daq IPO de­but, and the low of com­par­isons to Cymabay — whose NASH drug re­cent­ly stum­bled — Gen­fit on Mon­day un­veiled an up to $228 mil­lion deal with transpa­cif­ic biotech Terns Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to de­vel­op its flag­ship ex­per­i­men­tal liv­er drug — elafi­bra­nor — in Greater Chi­na.

The deal comes more than a week af­ter Gen­fit $GN­FT is­sued a fiery de­fense of its dual PPAR ag­o­nist elafi­bra­nor, when com­peti­tor Cymabay’s PPARδ ag­o­nist, se­ladel­par, fiz­zled in a snap­shot of da­ta from an on­go­ing mid-stage tri­al. The main goal at the end of 12 weeks was for se­ladel­par to in­duce a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in liv­er fat con­tent, but da­ta showed that pa­tients on the place­bo ac­tu­al­ly per­formed bet­ter.

Fol­low­ing news of job cuts in Eu­ro­pean R&D ops, Sanofi con­firms it’s of­fer­ing US work­ers an 'ear­ly ex­it'

Ear­li­er in the week we learned that Sanofi was bring­ing out the bud­get ax to trim 466 R&D jobs in Eu­rope, re­tool­ing its ap­proach to car­dio as re­search chief John Reed beefed up their work in can­cer and gene ther­a­pies. And we’re end­ing the week with news that the phar­ma gi­ant has al­so been qui­et­ly re­duc­ing staff in the US, tar­get­ing hun­dreds of jobs as the com­pa­ny push­es vol­un­tary buy­outs with a fo­cus on R&D sup­port ser­vices.

Suf­fer­ing No­var­tis part­ner Cona­tus is pack­ing it in on NASH af­ter a se­ries of un­for­tu­nate tri­al events

The NASH par­ty is over at No­var­tis-backed Cona­tus. And this time they’re turn­ing off the lights.

More than 2 years af­ter No­var­tis sur­prised the biotech in­vest­ment com­mu­ni­ty with its $50 mil­lion up­front and promise of R&D sup­port to part­ner with the lit­tle biotech on NASH — ig­nit­ing a light­ning strike for the share price — Cona­tus $CNAT is back with the lat­est bit­ter tale to tell about em­ri­c­as­an, which once in­spired con­fi­dence at the phar­ma gi­ant.

Alex­ion wins pri­or­i­ty re­view for Ul­tomiris' aHUS in­di­ca­tion; FDA ex­pands ap­proval of Ver­tex's Symdeko

→ Alex­ion $ALXN has scored a speedy re­view for Ul­tomiris for pa­tients with atyp­i­cal he­molyt­ic ure­mic syn­drome (aHUS) af­ter post­ing pos­i­tive da­ta from a piv­otal study in Jan­u­ary. The drug is the rare dis­ease com­pa­ny’s shot at pro­tect­ing its block­buster blood dis­or­der fran­chise that is cur­rent­ly cen­tered around its flag­ship drug, Soliris, which is a com­ple­ment in­hibitor typ­i­cal­ly ad­min­is­tered every two weeks. Ul­tomiris has a sim­i­lar mech­a­nism of ac­tion but re­quires less-fre­quent dos­ing — every eight weeks. The de­ci­sion date has been set to Oc­to­ber 19. Late last year, Ul­tomiris se­cured ap­proval for noc­tur­nal he­mo­glo­bin­uria (PNH) pa­tients.

Bet­ter than Am­bi­en? Min­er­va soars on PhI­Ib up­date on sel­torex­ant for in­som­nia

A month af­ter roil­ing in­vestors with what skep­tics dis­missed as cher­ry pick­ing of its de­pres­sion da­ta, Min­er­va is back with a clean slate of da­ta from its Phase IIb in­som­nia tri­al.

In a de­tailed up­date, the Waltham, MA-based biotech said sel­torex­ant (MIN-202) hit both the pri­ma­ry and sev­er­al sec­ondary end­points, ef­fec­tive­ly im­prov­ing sleep in­duc­tion and pro­long­ing sleep du­ra­tion. In­ves­ti­ga­tors made a point to note that the ef­fects were con­sis­tent across the adult and el­der­ly pop­u­la­tions, with the lat­ter more prone to the sleep dis­or­der.

Gene ther­a­py biotech sees its stock rock­et high­er on promis­ing re­sults for rare cas­es of but­ter­fly dis­ease

Shares of Krys­tal Biotech took off this morn­ing $KRYS af­ter the lit­tle biotech re­port­ed promis­ing re­sults from its gene ther­a­py to treat a rare skin dis­ease called epi­der­mol­y­sis bul­losa.

Fo­cus­ing on an up­date with 4 new pa­tients, re­searchers spot­light­ed the suc­cess of KB103 in clos­ing some stub­born wounds. Krys­tal says that of 4 re­cur­ring and 2 chron­ic skin wounds treat­ed with the gene ther­a­py, the KB103 group saw the clo­sure of 5. The 6th — a chron­ic wound, de­fined as a wound that had re­mained open for more than 12 weeks — was par­tial­ly closed. That brings the to­tal so far to 8 treat­ed wounds, with 7 clo­sures.

Ab­b­Vie gets a green light to re­sume re­cruit­ing pa­tients for one myelo­ma study — but Ven­clex­ta re­mains un­der a cloud

Three months af­ter reg­u­la­tors at the FDA forced Ab­b­Vie to halt en­rolling pa­tients in its tri­als of a com­bi­na­tion us­ing Ven­clex­ta (vene­to­clax) to treat drug-re­sis­tant cas­es of mul­ti­ple myelo­ma, the agency has green-light­ed the re­sump­tion of one of those stud­ies, while keep­ing the rest on the side­lines.

The CANO­VA (M13-494) study can now get back in busi­ness re­cruit­ing pa­tients to test the drug for a pop­u­la­tion that shares a par­tic­u­lar ge­net­ic bio­mark­er. To get that per­mis­sion, Ab­b­Vie — which is part­nered with Roche on this pro­gram — was forced to re­vise the pro­to­col, mak­ing un­spec­i­fied changes in­volv­ing risk mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures, pro­to­col-spec­i­fied guide­lines and an up­dat­ed fu­til­i­ty cri­te­ria.