China Biotech Week in Review: Focus on Innovation

by: ChinaBio Today

On Friday, the SEED Life Sciences Business Plan Competition chose Dr. Yuqiang Wang from Guangzhou Jinan University College of Pharmacy as its first winner (see story). Dr. Josen Ma, from Pharminova Bio-tech Co. Ltd. and Dr. Bai Xu from Suzhou Natong Bionanotechnology Co. Ltd. were named as the runners-up. The SEED competition was organized by Roche, OrbiMed, and McKinsey. The event was hosted by the ChinaBio Accelerator in Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, Shanghai.

Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY) has established a regional R&D center in Shanghai (see story) to develop and manage partnerships with China biopharmas. Unlike many of its big pharma competitors, Sanofi-Aventis is not building a lab and hiring scores of scientists to work exclusively on S-A projects. The company says the plan will allow Sanofi-Aventis to take advantage of China’s innovative biopharma culture.

Kun Run Biotechnology (OTCPK:KURU), a biopharma focused on peptide and small molecule drugs, has raised $8 million in a private placement with Caduceus Asia Partners, LP, a fund managed by OrbiMed Advisors, and Mr. Xueyun Cui, who is both Chairman and majority stockholder of Kun Run (see story). In a statement, Mr. Cui said that OrbiMed’s participation would give Kun Run a leg up in its plan to sell products globally.

Artepharm Global Corp. [OTCBB: ARGC] formed a joint venture with a similarly named China company, Artepharm Co. Ltd. (Artepharm China), to market a malaria drug (see story). Artepharm China is a Guangzhou-based biopharma whose malaria drug, Artequick, produced $1.5 million of revenue in 2009. Although Artepharm did not call the transaction a reverse merger, it has most of the characteristics of one.

NeoStem, Inc. (NBS) announced a stem cell collaboration with ImmuneRegen BioSciences, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of IR BioSciences Holdings, Inc. [OTCBB: IRBS] (see story). NeoStem will investigate whether Homspera, ImmuneRegen’s lead product, will enhance stem cell activity when used in combination with NeoStem's VSEL technology.

Eisai Co., Ltd., the fourth largest Japanese pharma, licensed the China rights to a gastroprokinetic agent, cinitapride tartrate, from Almirall, S.A. of Spain (see story). Eisai obtained exclusive rights to develop, manufacture and market cinitapride in China. Eisai has a production facility in Suzhou. In 2001, Eisai bought the China rights to an antiallergic agent, Kestine, from Almirall. Terms of the new license were not disclosed.

Lotus Pharmaceuticals (OTCPK:LTUS) said the SFDA indicated it would grant fast-track approval to begin clinical trials of its asthma drug Laevo-Bambutero (see story). At a meeting held as part of its Investigative New Drug Application, Lotus was told the Beijing office of the SFDA would issue the approval to begin clinical trials.

Simcere Pharma (NYSE: SCR) reported that diosmectite, the API in its branded generic diarrhea drug Biqi, has passed EU-GMP inspection (see story). Diosmectite is made from a natural mineral, and Simcere owns a high-grade diosmectite mine in China. It is the leading anti-diarrhea drug in China and France.

ATS Medical (NSDQ: ATSI) reported the first commercial implant of the ATS 3f Aortic Bioprosthesis, a tissue valve, was completed recently at Fu Wai Hospital in Beijing, China (see story). ATS Medical, of Plymouth, Minnesota, received SFDA approval of the valve last month. ATS Medical maintains an office in Shanghai. The ATS 3f Aortic Bioprosthesis is a stentless pericardial aortic tissue valve that is designed to function like a native valve.

Disclosure: none.