China Biotech Week in Review: Cross-Border Collaboration

Includes: MLSS, MRNA, SCR
by: ChinaBio Today

Among the news surfacing from China life science last week, there were four stories that involved relationships between Western life science companies and China, underlying the ongoing theme of a growing interdependence.

MDRNA, Inc. (NSDQ: MRNA) announced an RNAi cancer collaboration with AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) Investment (China) Company that is being carried out at AstraZeneca’s Innovation Center in Shanghai (see story). MDRNA’s RNA interference technology combines two proteins to simultaneously inhibit two processes. In the AstraZeneca collaboration, the formulation is being tested as a treatment for liver cancer.

Milestone Scientific (NYSEMKT:MLSS) expects SFDA approval of its dental anesthesia medical device, the STA System™, within three to four months (see story). Once the approval is granted, Milestone will begin shipments to Sinopharm, its marketing partner that is also helping with the regulatory process. Milestone and Sinopharm signed a three-year blanket purchase order late last year. The STA System takes the place of a syringe to deliver anesthesia painlessly to a single tooth.

OriGene Technologies, Inc., a gene-centric life sciences company based in Maryland, completed a $16 million Series B financing, which it will use to continue building its TrueMAB™ collection of monoclonal antibodies (see story). In February 2009, OriGene purchased the assets of Shenzhen P&A Biotech, a company that provides monoclonal antibodies. OriGene said it would use its new China monoclonal antibody production facility to produce several thousand high quality monoclonal antibodies per year.

Wuxi MTLH Biotechnology Co., a company founded in December 2007, has sold the China rights for its lead molecule, an anti-cancer drug, to Shanghai The First Biochemical Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Shanghai Pharmaceutical Group (see story). MTLH-001 is a peptide PDGFR antagonist in pre-clinical development. SBPC will co-develop the product with MTLH according to FDA standards, helping MTLH to launch the drug globally.

Simcere Pharmaceutical Group (NYSE: SCR) has successfully completed a Phase IV clinical trial of Endostar, its patented cancer drug, in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) (see story). Endostar, a Class-1 drug with an anti-angiogenesis mechanism, was approved by the SFDA in 2005 to treat NSCLC. Simcere said the drug, which was administered as an adjunct to chemotherapy, “significantly” improved outcomes without causing additional adverse effects.

Now that the US Healthcare Reform bill has become law, we know that more people are (or eventually will be) insured, but we don’t know the larger ramifications of the package (see story). In particular, we suspect that the government will eventually seek greater control over the life science industry – costs are at the center of healthcare – but we don’t know how or when or what segments of the industry will be most affected. We can, however, plan on China continuing to factor more prominently in the US life science industry as China represents a major opportunity for lowering costs.

Disclosure: none.