Albert Wong, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks CEO

Boehringer In­gel­heim to in­cu­bate biotechs with Hong Kong R&D leader

Fol­low­ing the suit of As­traZeneca last Feb­ru­ary, Boehringer In­gel­heim will team up with a lead­ing R&D hub in Hong Kong to seed biotechs.

Where­as As­traZeneca fo­cused on can­cer drugs and di­ag­nos­tics, the Ger­man gi­ant will work with Hong Kong Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Parks on in­cu­bat­ing in­fec­tious dis­ease and im­munol­o­gy drug de­vel­op­ers.

HK­STP and Boehringer, through its ven­ture arm, will sup­port the up­starts with up to $6 mil­lion HK (about $600,000 USD) each to bankroll ear­ly-stage op­er­a­tions and clin­i­cal tri­als, said Grace Lau, head of HK­STP’s in­sti­tute for trans­la­tion­al re­search, in a state­ment.

The fo­cus is on ear­ly-stage star­tups and uni­ver­si­ty spin­offs that are en­ter­ing the R&D stage. Lo­cal and glob­al star­tups are able to ap­ply.

The Hong Kong part­ner will pro­vide busi­ness de­vel­op­ment ex­per­tise, men­tor­ship and in­vest­ment ini­tia­tives, such as help­ing with fi­nan­cial sub­si­dies and up­front grants. The group will al­so lend guid­ance on com­mer­cial­iza­tion, man­u­fac­tur­ing, scal­ing-up and mar­ket­ing strate­gies.

Boehringer will lend in­vest­ment in­sight and pro­vide ac­cess to its fund­ing net­work.

The pair kept de­tails slim on the length of the part­ner­ship and how many biotechs they look to build. More than 150 biotechs are al­ready part of HK­STP, the group says, which is a three­fold in­crease in the past five years. The rapid rise is part of the gov­ern­ment’s in­vest­ment in­to bio­med­ical tech­nol­o­gy with the in­fu­sion of $10 bil­lion HK ($1.27 bil­lion USD) ded­i­cat­ed to­ward life and health tech.

The rise has been so strong that HK­STP CEO Al­bert Wong claims Hong Kong is the world’s sec­ond largest fundrais­ing hub for biotech, ce­ment­ing its mark as the largest in Asia.

“Now we’re thrilled to see that the bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try is pick­ing up rapid­ly in the Guang­dong–Hong Kong–Macau Greater Bay Area, it’s a great op­por­tu­ni­ty for us to part­ner with HK­STP to de­vel­op the lo­cal ecosys­tem, and fur­ther en­hance Chi­na’s dual-cir­cu­la­tion scheme,” Boehringer Chi­na CEO and pres­i­dent Fe­lix Gutsche said in a state­ment. “We hope to of­fer our con­tin­u­ous sup­port to more home-grown in­no­va­tions to be rec­og­nized on the glob­al mar­ket and even­tu­al­ly ben­e­fit the pa­tients world­wide.”

Fledg­ling biotechs in­volved in the pro­gram can al­so tap in­to HK­STP’s 11,000-re­searcher tal­ent pool.

2023 Spot­light on the Fu­ture of Drug De­vel­op­ment for Small and Mid-Sized Biotechs

In the context of today’s global economic environment, there is an increasing need to work smarter, faster and leaner across all facets of the life sciences industry.  This is particularly true for small and mid-sized biotech companies, many of which are facing declining valuations and competing for increasingly limited funding to propel their science forward.  It is important to recognize that within this framework, many of these smaller companies already find themselves resource-challenged to design and manage clinical studies themselves because they don’t have large teams or in-house experts in navigating the various aspects of the drug development journey. This can be particularly challenging for the most complex and difficult to treat diseases where no previous pathway exists and patients are urgently awaiting breakthroughs.

Up­dat­ed: FDA re­mains silent on or­phan drug ex­clu­siv­i­ty af­ter last year's court loss

Since losing a controversial court case over orphan drug exclusivity last year, the FDA’s Office of Orphan Products Development has remained entirely silent on orphan exclusivity for any product approved since last November, leaving many sponsors in limbo on what to expect.

That silence means that for more than 70 orphan-designated indications for more than 60 products, OOPD has issued no public determination on the seven-year orphan exclusivity in the Orange Book, and no new listings of orphan exclusivity appear in OOPD’s searchable database, as highlighted recently by George O’Brien, a partner in Mayer Brown’s Washington, DC office.

Val­neva's chikun­gun­ya vac­cine on track for FDA nod af­ter long-term an­ti­body da­ta

The chikungunya virus met its match in Valneva’s vaccine candidate, VLA1553, according to data from an antibody persistence trial released today.

The trial found that 99% of 363 participants retained neutralizing antibodies 12 months after a single dose of vaccine in the company’s earlier, larger Phase III trial, called VLA1553-301. The participants from the long-term study will continue to be monitored for at least five years.

Big week for Alzheimer’s da­ta; As­traZeneca buys cell ther­a­py start­up; Dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics hits a pay­er wall; and more

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Am­gen, years be­hind ri­vals, says PhI obe­si­ty drug shows dura­bil­i­ty signs

While NBC ran “The Biggest Loser” for 17 seasons, deemed toxic by critics for the reality show’s punishing exercise and diet upheavals, researchers in pharmaceutical labs have been attempting to create prescription drugs that induce weight loss — and one pharma betting it can require less frequent dosing is out with a new crop of data.

Amgen was relatively late to the game compared to its approved competitor Novo Nordisk and green light-approaching rival Eli Lilly. But early data suggested Amgen’s AMG 133 led to a 14.5% weight reduction in the first few months of dosing, buoying shares earlier this fall, and now the California pharma is out with its first batch of durability data showing that figure fell slightly to 11.2% about 150 days after the last dose. Amgen presented at the 20th World Congress on Insulin Resistance, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease on Saturday afternoon.

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Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

As mon­ey pours in­to dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics, in­sur­ance cov­er­age crawls

Talk therapy didn’t help Lily with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. But a video game did.

As the 10-year-old zooms through icy waters and targets flying creatures on the snow-capped planet Frigidus, she builds attention skills, thanks to Akili Interactive Labs’ video game EndeavorRx. She’s now less anxious and scattered, allowing her to stay on a low dose of ADHD medication, according to her mom Violet Vu.

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Eli Lil­ly’s Alzheimer’s drug clears more amy­loid ear­ly than Aduhelm in first-ever head-to-head. Will it mat­ter?

Ahead of the FDA’s decision on Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s drug donanemab in February, the Big Pharma is dropping a first cut of data from one of the more interesting trials — but less important in a regulatory sense — at an Alzheimer’s conference in San Francisco.

In the unblinded 148-person study, Eli Lilly pitted its drug against Aduhelm, Biogen’s drug that won FDA approval but lost Medicare coverage outside of clinical trials. Notably, the study didn’t look at clinical outcomes, but rather the clearance of amyloid, a protein whose buildup is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, in the brain.

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Chris Kim, Liminatus Pharma CEO

A fledg­ling biotech goes SPAC route to bankroll can­cer vac­cine, CAR-T and CD47

A relatively unknown clinical-stage biotech — backed by a Korean lighting company and focused on a cancer vaccine out of a Thomas Jefferson University lab — is headed to Nasdaq via the blank check route.

Liminatus Pharma will get about $316 million in proceeds from the SPAC combination to fund its ongoing Phase IIa study of a cancer vaccine, bring a CAR-T therapy into the clinic and prep a CD47 immune checkpoint inhibitor for human trials, the company said this week.

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US month­ly costs for biosim­i­lars 'sub­stan­tial­ly high­er' than Ger­many or Switzer­land, JA­MA re­search finds

As the global biologics market is expected to hit nearly the half-trillion-dollar mark this year, new JAMA research points to the importance of timely biosimilar entry, particularly as fewer biosimilars are entering the US than in Europe, and as monthly treatment costs for biosimilars were “substantially higher” in the US compared with Germany and Switzerland.

Among the three countries, biosimilar market share at launch was highest in Germany, but increased at the fastest rate in the US, the authors from the University of Zurich’s Institute of Law wrote in JAMA Network Open today.