Week In Review: Roche Seeks China Partners With First-In-Class, Best-In-Class Products

by: ChinaBio Today

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In an exclusive interview, Dr. Darren Ji (Vice President and Global Head of Roche Partnering, Asia and Emerging Markets) told ChinaBio Today that Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) (OTCQX:RHHBF) remains entirely focused on novel drugs for unmet needs. So it's not surprising that the Swiss pharma is looking to partner with companies that have innovative drugs with unique differentiators, the potential to be either first-in-class or best-in-class (see story). Because China's drug development scene is showing increasing levels of innovation, Dr. Ji says Roche works very hard to maintain relationships with China entrepreneurs. The company wants to bring innovative drugs to the "hugely important" China market, he adds, and it plans to bring novel China drugs to global markets.

Deals and Financings

WuXi PharmaTech (NYSE:WX) formed a collaboration with Foundation Medicine (NASDAQ:FMI) of Cambridge, MA, that will offer the FoundationOne assay in China (see story). The assay tests for genetic abnormalities associated with cancer to determine the best treatment. For pharmas undertaking China clinical trials, the personalized medicine test will identify target patient populations. WuXi, whose venture arm was an early investor in Foundation, will perform the laboratory component of the assay at its Shanghai Genome Center.

Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196; HK: 2196) led a $12 million fundraising in Check-Cap, an Israeli medical device company. Check-Cap has developed an ingestible capsule that performs an endoscopy as its passes through the digestive tract. Unlike other similar products, the Check-Cap device does not require a bowel cleansing before the procedure. Check-Cap will use the money to conduct a clinical trial in Europe, followed by the US, China and Japan. In all likelihood, Fosun will distribute the product in China.

China Materialia LLC, a Shanghai-based venture capital company, led a $5.7 million extension to a Series C financing for ZipLine Medical of California. ZipLine makes novel noninvasive surgical skin closure products. China Materialia's Fund I has $26 million to invest in innovative technology products with an interest in China R&D, manufacturing or marketing. The extension brings ZipLine's C round to a total of $10 million.

Enigma Diagnostics of England announced a joint venture with Beijing Leadman Biochemistry (SHE: 300289) for China development of Enigma's molecular diagnostic point-of-care (PoC) infectious disease test. Beijing Leadman will market the Enigma Mini Laboratory PoC molecular diagnostic system in China, while Enigma will out-license China rights for its technology to the JV. The JV will develop molecular assays specifically for the China market and manufacture the tests in China. In addition, Enigma signed a $50 million subscription agreement with Sailing Capital of Shanghai to market the system in Europe.

Akers Biosciences (NASDAQ: AKER; LSE: AKR), a New Jersey diagnostics company, signed a joint venture with Hainan Savy Investment Management Ltd. to develop Akers' rapid diagnostic screening and testing products in China (see story). Thomas Knox, Akers' Non-executive Co-Chairman is also a partner in the JV. Akers currently makes 12 tests on six separate technology platforms. It plans to develop and market the majority of its tests in China, emphasizing products for diabetes, cardiac and infectious diseases.

Powertech Technology, a distributor of laboratory tools based in Xiamen, signed a three-year agreement to distribute Pressure BioSciences' (NASDAQ:PBIO) products in China (see story). Pressure BioSciences makes constant and alternating pressure devices that control biomolecular interactions. Headquartered in Boston, Pressure BioSciences believes that China will become its second-largest market, behind only the US.

Trials and Approvals

CardioKinetix of California has enrolled the first ten patients in a China clinical trial of its first-in-class, minimally invasive medical device to treat heart failure. Following a heart attack, many patients suffer from shortness of breath because their hearts have become enlarged, reducing output. CardioKinetix's Parachute Ventricular Partitioning Device, inserted in the left ventricle via the femoral artery, partitions off the non-working section of the heart. The first China patients have been enrolled at Beijing's Peking University and Fu Wai Hospitals and at Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital.

TWi Pharma of Taiwan has been granted Orphan Drug designation in the US by the FDA for the use of AC-201 to treat a rare genetic skin disease, epidermolysis bullosa. EB, which affects one person out of every 50,000 births, results in extremely fragile skin that blisters and tears from friction or trauma. In June 2014, TWi established a China connection by acquiring a majority stake in Visum Pharma, located in Hainan.

Disclosure: None

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