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


In­side Track: Be­hind the Scenes of a Ma­jor Biotech SPAC

Dr. David Hung and Michelle Doig are no strangers to the SPAC phenomenon. As Founder and CEO of Nuvation Bio, a biotech company tackling some of the greatest unmet needs in oncology, Dr. Hung recently took the company public in one of this year’s biggest SPAC related deals. And as Partner at Omega Funds, Doig not only led and syndicated Nuvation Bio’s Series A, but is now also President of the newly formed, Omega-sponsored, Omega Alpha SPAC (Nasdaq: OMEG; oversubscribed $138m IPO priced January 6, 2021).

Barry Greene, Sage CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Sage's sec­ond chance at de­pres­sion hits the PhI­II pri­ma­ry, but ques­tions re­main over dura­bil­i­ty, side ef­fects

Looking to make a comeback after a big Phase III flop, Sage Therapeutics revealed data they believe could change the entire depression treatment landscape, given the vast array of failures in the field. But some results are spooking investors, sending Sage $SAGE shares down early Tuesday.

First, the primary: Sage and Biogen reported Phase III data for once-daily zuranolone Tuesday morning, saying the experimental drug hit its primary endpoint by spurring a statistically significant change from baseline in the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression total score. After 15 days, patients in the drug arm saw an average change of -14.1 points, compared to -12.3 on placebo.

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Bio­gen sig­nals a big PhI­II fail­ure as the lead gene ther­a­py in their $800M Night­star buy­out goes down in flames

That $800 million buyout of Nightstar has turned into a bust for Biogen as the lead therapy in the deal failed a pivotal study, signaling a severe setback for the biotech’s ambitions in gene therapies.

The big biotech put out the word after the market closed on Monday that the gene therapy they picked up in the deal for a degenerative blindness called choroideremia failed the Phase III study, just a month after their #2 drug in the deal also flopped in a mid-stage study.

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CEO Harith Rajagopalan (Fractyl)

Af­ter a decade in the type 2 di­a­betes game, Fractyl Lab­o­ra­to­ries recharges with a fresh $100M and a new name

Harith Rajagopalan compared the way type 2 diabetes is managed to sticking your fingers in a dam that’s leaking from a number of places.

You can take drugs to lower your blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure, but you’re not addressing what he says is the core issue — the metabolic abnormality that causes the disease.

“We’re so busy plugging the holes in the dam, we don’t have time to see that the whole infrastructure is at risk,” he said. “That infrastructure is a full-body systemic metabolic abnormality called metabolic syndrome, that we’re ignoring while we’re so busy trying to treat all of the individual symptoms of the condition.”

Michel Sade­lain puts his name and new cell en­gi­neer­ing tech be­hind 'ag­nos­tic' CAR-T start­up chas­ing epi­ge­net­ic anti­gens

It felt natural for Alain Maiore and Sebastian Amigorena to bring in Michel Sadelain as a co-founder of Mnemo Therapeutics. A CAR-T pioneer, Sadelain had been involved as an advisor since the early days — enthusiastic about Amigorena’s work in a genetic knockout that could enhance T cell memory and a new class of potential targets he’s discovered — and could introduce some well-known technologies to the toolbox. So they got the initial cash from Sofinnova Partners to plant roots in Paris and New York in early 2019; within a few months, they began to see more clearly just what the antigen discovery platform might unlock.

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Lynn Fitch, Mississippi Attorney General (Rogelio V. Solis/AP Images)

Mis­sis­sip­pi sues Eli Lil­ly, Sanofi and No­vo over in­sulin prices as in­ter­change­able biosim­i­lars may ar­rive soon

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch last week sued the top three insulin manufacturers, which collectively cover almost the entire US insulin market, alleging that they’ve colluded to raise their prices in lockstep, and in some cases by more than 1,000% for drugs that are decades old.

“Because of Manufacturer Defendants’ collusive price increases, nearly a century after the discovery of insulin, diabetes medications have become unaffordable for many diabetics,” the lawsuit says.

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Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

Ex­sci­en­tia spends Soft­Bank's cash in bid to edge out AI ri­vals

Exscientia is sprinting to win the great AI biotech race.

The UK company, having long labored on small discovery deals with large pharmas, raised up to $525 million in a Series D led by the infamous Japanese conglomerate SoftBank in April and followed it up less than a month later with a Bristol Myers Squibb deal that paid $50 million cash and $1.2 billion in milestones.

Now, the Oxford spinout is splurging on a shiny new tool. On Monday they announced they purchased the three-year-old molecule-screening biotech Allcyte, a longtime collaborator, for $60.6 million in cash and stock.

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Hal Barron, GSK R&D chief (Endpoints News)

Hal Bar­ron gam­bles $625M cash on high-wire TIG­IT act, throw­ing Glax­o­SmithK­line in­to heat­ed race and com­plet­ing next-gen I/O trin­i­ty

Count Hal Barron and GlaxoSmithKline in for the TIGIT fight.

The stakes are as high as the risks: While a growing pack of Big Pharma rivals is lending credence to the hypothesis that TIGIT will be the next big immune checkpoint and cancer drug target, the first clinical trials have shown response rates that can be described as modest at best. But Barron’s bet is on the whole “axis” that the receptor sits on, with an eye on testing its new anti-TIGIT antibody not just in combo with PD-1 but also in triplets.

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As Covid-19 shifts the world's at­ten­tion to biotech, Noubar Afeyan's Flag­ship builds $3.4B fund to fu­el new in­ven­tions. Here's the plan

A little more than a year ago, Flagship Pioneering rolled out a monster fund with $1.1 billion in it to bankroll the platform companies they were creating inside their own labs. But it turns out, that was just the prelude to a much, much larger raise, as both current investors — who’ve been reaping the rewards of some booming biotech stocks — join in with new investors betting on more in the years to come.

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