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John Maraganore, Jeremy Levin, Ron Cohen and Steven Holtzman

Biotech lead­ers ral­ly be­hind Chi­nese sci­en­tists in US, calls for 'mea­sured' poli­cies in wake of purges

A slate of biotech executives, venture capitalists and academic researchers have lent their voices to Chinese scientists working in the US biomedical field, amplifying concerns that recent sanctions could “create a climate of fear and uncertainty.”

The letter — drafted by Steven Holtzman, Ron Cohen, Jeremy Levin and John Maraganore and signed by well over 100 industry figures — cautions against vilifying or excluding an ethnic group at the expense of the universal effort to fight disease. Levin currently chairs BIO, while Cohen and Maraganore are past heads of the trade group.

Chi­na has be­come a CEO-lev­el pri­or­i­ty for multi­na­tion­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies: the trend and the im­pli­ca­tions

After a “hot” period of rapid growth between 2009 and 2012, and a relatively “cooler” period of slower growth from 2013 to 2015, China has once again become a top-of-mind priority for the CEOs of most large, multinational pharmaceutical companies.

At the International Pharma Forum, hosted in March in Beijing by the R&D Based Pharmaceutical Association Committee (RDPAC) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), no fewer than seven CEOs of major multinational pharmaceutical firms participated, including GSK, Eli Lilly, LEO Pharma, Merck KGaA, Pfizer, Sanofi and UCB. A few days earlier, the CEOs of several other large multinationals attended the China Development Forum, an annual business forum hosted by the research arm of China’s State Council. It’s hard to imagine any other country, except the US, having such drawing power at CEO level.

Pref­er­en­tial tax poli­cies com­ing for bio­phar­mas set­ting up shop in Shang­hai's newest free trade zone

In an attempt to lure more high-tech manufacturers to China, the country’s Ministry of Commerce has said it would implement a special tax policy for — among other industries — biopharma companies in a newly expanded free trade zone in the Southeast part of the booming biotech hub of Shanghai.

The ministry reiterated that it will push to attract more such companies late Friday, Reuters reported, days after it unveiled the preferential tax plans.

Move over, Hong Kong: Shang­hai’s new tech board sees fer­vent de­mand for maid­en biotech IPO

Days after taking off to a buoyant start, Shanghai’s STAR market — China’s push to open up a new fundraising avenue for domestic fledgling tech companies — has some good news to report about its biotech debutant.

Shenzhen Chipscreen Biosciences has priced its shares at RMB 20.43 ($2.96) per share in an oversubscribed IPO, the company said in a filing. That could translate to  RMB 1 billion, or almost $145 million, in IPO proceeds, with a valuation of $1.21 billion, according to a filing cited by Reuters.

Fol­low­ing foot­steps of chart-top­ping Chi­nese coun­ter­parts, Al­pham­ab On­col­o­gy files IPO at HKEX

Less than two months after raising $60 million — its second venture round in a decade — Alphamab is making the hop for the public markets.

In its IPO filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange, the Suzhou-based company describes in more detail a game plan it sketched out in May: Beat down a direct path to market for its two lead bispecifics by running multiple parallel clinical programs, while prepping for the potential commercialization of its subcutaneous PD-L1 and advancing another CTLA-4-based immunosuppressant.

No clear an­swers: Yes, re­cent ac­tions against Chi­nese Amer­i­can sci­en­tists do pose a threat — but maybe those of­fi­cial con­cerns about es­pi­onage are valid too

Earlier this week we asked our readers to chime in on a conversation inspired by former NIH director and Sanofi R&D chief Elias Zerhouni, who was concerned that recent purges of Chinese American scientists at top biomedical institutions could spell trouble for the scientific community. While grounded in national security reasons, he argues, the US risks losing valuable talent and collaborations if it doesn’t handle the situation properly.

In a first, HKEX re­ceives IPO pitch from lo­cal biotech look­ing to make it big in crowd­ed an­ti­bod­ies field

A Hong Kong-based antibody maker has filed for an IPO on the HKEX, marking the first truly homegrown company to take advantage of new rules that allow pre-revenue biotechs to list on the stock exchange.

Founder and CEO Shawn Leung calls SinoMab an industry pioneer in the region, having started out in 2002 with support from Morningside — at a time the city’s leaders appeared more interested in “rationalization” of Chinese medicine. Leung, an Oxford-educated local who trained in the US first as a postdoc then at Immunomedics, came up with his own framework for humanizing antibodies. That formed the basis of SinoMab’s current pipeline, which comprises a lead anti-CD22 drug, a BTK inhibitor, and four other preclinical mAbs.

Elias Zerhouni, Sanofi

Elias Zer­houni: Fear of ‘tar­get­ed dis­crim­i­na­tion’ against Chi­nese-Amer­i­can sci­en­tists threat­ens an ex­o­dus of tal­ent. What do you think?

The recent dismissal of several Chinese-American biomedical scientists believed to have violated the rules on disclosure — or suspected of being scientific spies for China — has Elias Zerhouni concerned about the future of biotech and science in general in the US. And he believes something should be done about it. Now.

The former NIH chief, as well as the recently retired head of R&D at Sanofi, sounded a clear warning in an op-ed piece for Science that these dismissals threaten thousands of Chinese-born scientists working in the US — and who clearly want to remain here. The US needs to balance the need for vigilance in maintaining trade secrets while keeping open the collaborative lines of communication that have been encouraged in scientific fields for years, he writes. And particular care needs to be applied when enforcing old and long-neglected rules on working with Chinese institutions and investigators.

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Trade ten­sions are im­ped­ing the flow of Chi­nese mon­ey to US biotechs — but how much?

US biotechs have seen a drastic drop in Chinese venture funding for the industry amid macro level trade tensions between the two countries and the American government’s heightened scrutiny of foreign investment. While VCs from China accounted for $1.65 billion worth of funding in the first half of last year, that figure has fallen nearly 60% to $725 million in 2019, the Financial Times reported citing PitchBook data.

Swiss court keeps ex-GSK sci­en­tist's broth­er be­hind bars as US push­es to ex­tra­dite him on R&D theft charges

A Swiss criminal court is keeping Chinese scientist Gongda Xue in jail for now as US officials look to extradite him for his role in a family enterprise that stole more than a half billion dollars in drug secrets and transferred them to China.

Local news sources in Switzerland report that the criminal court rejected the scientist’s appeal, saying that a potential 20-year prison sentence makes him a clear flight risk.