China Biotech Week in Review: A Multitude of Deals and Collaborations

 |  Includes: BSPM, LHSI, SNY, TCM
by: ChinaBio Today

The news from China life science last week was replete with stories about deals and investments, some of them involving sizable financial commitments while others pooled competencies. All built on the strengths of the respective organizations with the hope of creating something even more significant in the future.

In a surprising “teaser” story postdated to Monday, October 19, 2009, The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) revealed it has signed an agreement to collaborate on stem cell research with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (see story). The announcement was little more than a headline, leaving details to a more complete disclosure that will be released on Monday. CIRM has a mandate to spend $3 billion over ten years on stem cell research, though the money is restricted to entities that are domiciled in California.

In a similarly preliminary announcement, ChinaSF, the San Francisco agency in charge of building bridges between the US city and China businesses of all sectors, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China Medical City of Taizhou, Jiangsu Province. Under the agreement, which is expected to be signed in November, China Medical City will open an office and drug development facilities in San Francisco’s Mission Bay business development project. San Francisco hopes that some of the 200 life science companies in China Medical City will eventually open facilities in San Francisco as well. Greg Scott, our Executive Editor, reports further that ChinaSF also visited Beijing, Suzhou and Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park in Shanghai, as he was there for the discussions.

China Pediatric Pharmaceuticals (OTC:LHSI) has completed a reverse merger, taking over the company formerly known as Lid Hair Studios International (see story). China Pediatric Pharma, which is headquartered in Xi’an, produces and distributes prescription and OTC drugs for children, some of which are western while the rest are based on TCM. The company reported $7.1 million in revenue and $1.6 million in net income for the six months of 2009.

Starr International Finance AG, a Swiss private equity firm, has agreed to make a $20.5 million investment in Techpool Bio-Pharma Company, a Guangzhou pharmaceutical company that specializes in human urinary protein-based drugs (see story). Starr will purchase 20 million new shares directly from Techpool for $14.6 million, and it will also acquire 8 million shares from Guangzhou Bopu Bio Technology, a Techpool shareholder. After the investment, Starr will own 28% of Techpool, which will become a foreign investment enterprise.

Tongjitang Chinese Medicines Company (NYSE:TCM) announced it has bought back 19.3 million shares of its stock from four institutional funds (see story). The buyback represents 15% of Tongjitang’s outstanding shares, reducing the count of outstanding shares from 128.2 million to 108.9 million. The company said the average price paid was $4.10 per ADS (each ADS is equivalent to four ordinary shares).

Merial, the animal health division of Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY), broke ground on a $70 million expansion of its manufacturing facility in the Nanchang Hi-tech Development Zone (see story). The existing factory, which has been in operation for almost 20 years, produces poultry vaccines for use in China. Phase I of the new construction will add almost 30,000 square meters of floor space. The expansion will ultimately double the existing facility’s production capacity.

Servier, the large, privately held French pharmaceutical company, is collaborating with the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, searching TCM libraries for active compounds that could be effective treatments for cancer (see story). The company has helped establish a Joint Institute at SIMM. Servier is also launching two major sponsorship projects, signed with the China’s Ministry of Health, the Chinese Medical Association, and the Chinese Pharmaceutical Association.

On the research front, China investigators have shown that bioluminescence imaging (BLI) can be used to monitor tumors in the eye externally, without requiring an invasive biopsy (see story). The new tools allow researchers to study the biology of retinoblastoma (RB) and offer the possibility of developing new therapies for RB. The investigation was carried out by a team of researchers at the First People’s Hospital in Shanghai, China, led by Qian Huang, MD, PhD, and reported in the peer-reviewed journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

Celsion Corporation (NASDAQ:CLSN) has received SFDA approval to include China sites in its global Phase III clinical trial of a new liver cancer therapy, ThermoDox (see story). ThermoDox is a liposomal encapsulation of doxorubicin, a commonly used chemotherapy drug; the formulation is designed to release its active ingredient when heated. Celsion said the acceptance is very significant to Celsion’s ultimate marketing plans due to the size of China’s market. Over half of the world’s HCC patients live in China.

Biostar Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:BSPM) received a China patent for Aoxing Ganbao, an external use TCM treatment for hepatitis B (see story). Biostar already has name recognition in the hepatitis B sector with its flagship product, Xin Aoxing Oleanolic Acid Capsules. Xin Aoxing Oleanolic capsules, which is the only OTC oral hepatitis treatment product approved by the SFDA, generates about 50% of Biostar’s revenues.

Disclosure: none.