China channel feed

Chengbin Wu (CEO of EpimAb)

Trans-Pa­cif­ic bis­pe­cif­ic play­er caps 'very chal­leng­ing' pan­dem­ic year with $120M to gain a foothold among the gi­ants

It’s a narrative that we’ve seen over and over again this past year: Covid-19 threw a monkey wrench into clinical trial plans of drugs in other disease areas, forcing companies to improvise.

But for EpimAb, the troubles were compounded: The US-China biotech had carefully selected one clinical center in Guangdong that lung cancer patients used to visit from all over China, but early travel restrictions vastly cut down the number they could recruit into their Phase I/II trial. Meanwhile, in the US, clinical trial sites essentially went into hibernation mode, CEO Chengbin Wu said in an interview with local media last July, quashing their hopes of gathering Phase I/II data for the lead bispecific by the end of 2020 — not to mention steering a second program into the clinic.

Roger Perlmutter, Merck

Roger Perl­mut­ter’s lat­est ‘re­tire­ment’ gig opens a door to the bustling Chi­na biotech scene

Roger Perlmutter will be doing some globetrotting for the next chapter in his long-running biopharma bio — though the actual travel part may be on hold through the pandemic.

Earlier in the week, we learned that Perlmutter, who stepped down from his post as head of R&D at the start of this year, has signed on as a science adviser to the Shanghai-based CBC group, a prominent investment group that’s been fostering some of the big new biotech startups in Asia.

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Chi­na's Yisheng­Bio chron­i­cles come­back sto­ry in Hong Kong IPO while plot­ting big moves in in­fec­tious dis­eases, can­cer

It can be tough to be a vaccine developer in China.

YishengBio shed some light on the regulatory hoops and hurdles it had to jump through since launching its first rabies vaccine in 2003 — and the grand plans it has for the global pipeline in infectious diseases and cancer — in an IPO filing on the HKEX.

The 2014 dispute that founder and chairman Zhang Yi got into with the Chinese FDA, for instance, turned out to have cost a lot more than just a few vaccine batches that didn’t get released. While the company said it had voluntarily halted manufacturing activities, reported the contamination and began a review of the facilities, the regulators performed an inspection and suspended the GMP license for a couple of months while also blocking release of 117 other lots of the YSJA rabies vaccine. Attempts to take the then-CFDA to court ended in vain.

An­gling Pfiz­er, As­traZeneca jumps in­to com­mer­cial PD-(L)1 fight in Chi­na

Is a Big Pharma commercial showdown brewing in China’s PD-(L)1 market?

Months after Pfizer outlined a sprawling $200 million pact with CStone partly to market its experimental PD-L1 in China, AstraZeneca is wading into the same waters by lassoing certain commercial rights to toripalimab from Junshi Biosciences.

Notably, both have their own checkpoint drugs. But unlike Pfizer’s Bavencio, AstraZeneca’s Imfinzi is actually approved in China for unresectable non-small cell lung cancer. And in toripalimab, the British drugmaker is scoring a more mature drug that earned China’s first-ever approval for a homegrown PD-1 back in 2018.

Six years sep­a­rat­ed from a ra­bies vac­cine scan­dal, Chi­na’s Yisheng­Bio grabs $130M to go big in in­fec­tious dis­eases, can­cer

In another boost to the global vaccine field, top investors in China have huddled together to inject $130 million into Beijing-based YishengBio.

Co-led by Oceanpine and OrbiMed, the Series B now gives the biotech an enviable list of marquee domestic VCs: EightRoad, F-Prime Capital, 3W Capital, Hillhouse Capital, MSA Capital, AIHC, Epiphron Capital, Superstring Capital and Haitong International. The standout here is Adjuvant Capital, a public-health-minded crew with ties to the Gates Foundation.

A month af­ter mul­ti-bil­lion dol­lar No­var­tis deal, BeiGene fol­lows up with 're­verse' deal

Just over a month after striking a deal with Novartis to bring its PD-1 antibody tislelizumab stateside, China-based BeiGene is making a similar play in reverse.

On Wednesday evening, BeiGene took the wraps off a $120 million-plus deal with Boston Immune Technologies and Therapeutics to develop and commercialize their tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2) antagonist antibodies in Asia (excluding Japan), Australia and New Zealand.

Frank Zhang (Imaginechina via AP Images)

Months af­ter shock­ing house ar­rest, Leg­end co-founder Frank Zhang is out on bail — though the CAR-T play­er has moved on

It’s still unclear why Frank Zhang — the founder and former CEO of both GenScript and its CAR-T subsidiary, Legend Biotech — was first placed under residential surveillance and then arrested. But he’s finally released on bail.

GenScript first disclosed in September that Zhang had been detained as part of a customs investigation on GenScript, the contract research organization he had run for the better part of the last two decades. It eventually emerged that the suspected offense had to do with “smuggling goods prohibited by the import and export regulations under the laws of the PRC,” and two other employees who had handled import and export activities were also arrested.

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Dun Yang (Anticancer Bioscience)

A syn­thet­ic lethal­i­ty play­er emerges in Chi­na, armed with lessons on un­drug­gable onco­gene from No­bel lau­re­ate's lab

As a longtime postdoc in the UCSF lab of Michael Bishop — the Nobel laureate known, among other things, for cloning the oncogene MYC — Dun Yang knew the cancer target like an archer knows the bullseye.

“I always talk about if we needed to nominate the most important oncogene […] that should be MYC,” he told Endpoints News. “The second one would be RAS. Because more than 50% of human cancer overexpress MYC oncogene.”

In­novent and Lil­ly win sec­ond Chi­na OK for Tyvyt in front­line NSCLC, ramp­ing up pres­sure on king Keytru­da

Innovent Biologics and its partners at Eli Lilly have notched another arrow in their quiver in their bid to take down Merck’s Keytruda.

Chinese regulators granted a prominent new approval for the pair’s Tyvyt on Wednesday, indicating the drug for first-line treatment of nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemo. It’s the second approval in the country for the Chinese powerhouse and American Big Pharma, after Tyvyt was OK’ed in 2018 for relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma after two lines of chemotherapy.

William Cao (Bloomberg via Getty)

Nas­daq rings in its first biotech IPOs of 2021: a CAR-T spe­cial­ist from Chi­na, a can­cer port­fo­lio play, and a SPAC

There was once a time when stellar CAR-T data from China would come — in a sense — out of nowhere and be greeted with surprise, or even outright skepticism.

It wasn’t that long ago, but those days are now gone. This is a time a CAR-T therapy originating from China can be developed in the public eye, down to every cut of data, by a company bound by American rules of disclosure.

Case in point: Gracell Biotechnologies, a Shanghai-based outfit that’s grabbing Nasdaq’s first biotech IPO listing alongside Cambridge, MA-based Cullinan Oncology.