China Biotech In Review: Pharmaron Announces Multi-Year Drug Discovery Partnership With AstraZeneca

Includes: AZN, MDT, WX
by: ChinaBio Today

Deals and Financings

Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196) expects to raise $600 million it in its upcoming Hong Kong IPO and will allocate half of it to deals. The IPO is on track for completion this month, as the bankers have begun taking orders. Pricing will be on October 23, and the stock will begin trading on October 30. Fosun has a well-earned reputation as one of the industry's most active deal-makers.

Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) will spend $66.2 million to purchase a 26.4% ownership of LifeTech Scientific (HK: 8122), a Shenzhen maker of cardiovascular medical devices (see story). The latest Medtronic-China deal comes just three weeks after Medtronic announced the $816 million acquisition of China Kanghui Holdings (NYSE: KH), a company that makes orthopedic implants.

Shenzhen Hepalink Pharma (SHE: 002399) has entered two agreements with ProMetic Life Sciences [TSX: PLI] of Canada. Their total value is $21 million. Hepalink will license ProMetic's protein technologies for an R&D project, and it will invest $10 million into ProMetic's common stock. ProMetic said the deals will accelerate its expansion into Asia.

Legend Capital, a China PE/VC investment firm, believes China's medical device sector is developing along the path followed by the information technology industry 20 years ago. That is, companies that discover meaningful technological innovations will prosper. In particular, successful firms will offer top-quality products at prices that ordinary Chinese people can afford. Legend isn't just talking; it has made investments in almost 20 life science companies since 2008.

TNI BioTech (TNIB.OB) of the US has out-licensed the China rights for two R&D-stage cancer treatments to Hubei Qianjiang Pharma (SHA: 600568) (see story). TNI's technology centers on methionine enkephalin (MENK), a cytokine that stimulates the immune system. In IRT-101, MENK is infused directly into the patient. In IRT-102, the treatment consists of isolating a patient's lymphocytes, incubating them with MENK, and the re-infusing them to fight tumor cells.


Pharmaron, China's third-largest CRO, announced a multi-year drug discovery partnership with AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) that will support AstraZeneca's global Innovative Medicines Units (see story). Pharmaron will have a dedicated staff of several hundred scientists working on AstraZeneca projects at the CRO's new facilities in Beijing. The agreement calls for Pharmaron to provide AstraZeneca with discovery services and efficacy screening.

WuXi AppTech (NYSE: WX) has officially opened its GMP manufacturing facility for biologic drugs - the first such facility in China compliant with GMP standards in China, the US and Europe (see story). WuXi has constructed a facility that is state-of-the-art, including the first operation anywhere in the globe that uses 100% disposable equipment for producing biologics drug substances. To mark the milestone, WuXi hosted a Global Monoclonal Antibody Summit in WuXi last week, which was attended by more than 300 people.

Industry News

Shanghai has established an institute for advanced immunochemical studies, sponsored by Shanghai Tech University and the Shanghai Advanced Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Its goal is to advance antibody drug R&D. Richard Lerner, MD, a research chemist who recently stepped down after twenty years as head of The Scripps Research Institute, was named the institute's first director. Lerner will lead a team of experts from the US, Europe and China.

Company News

Complete Genomics (NSDQ: GNOM), the California sequencing company, gained a partial victory in Illumina's (NSDQ: ILMN) patent suit against Complete (see story). The judge rejected Claim 1 of the suit, ruling that prior art shows Illumina's technology was not novel. In September, BGI, the giant sequencing company headquartered in Shenzhen, announced it would buy Complete Genomics for $127 million.

Disclosure: none.