China Biotech In Review: Hutchison MediPharma, AstraZeneca Partner On Cancer Drug

Includes: AZN, BTX, PLL, RHHBY
by: ChinaBio Today

Deals and Transactions

Hutchison MediPharma announced a new partnership with AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) that will jointly develop a pre-clinical cancer molecule, volitinib (see story). Volitinib is a novel inhibitor of the c-Met receptor tyrosine kinase. According to HMP, the drug candidate will soon begin a Phase I trial. AstraZeneca made a $20 million upfront payment, and the agreement calls for up to $120 million in milestones.

Hua Medicine has in-licensed global rights to Roche’s (OTCQX:RHHBY) glucokinase activator program (GKA), a potential treatment for diabetes (see story). GKA is a novel, small molecule activator of the glucokinase enzyme, which helps to regulate carbohydrate metabolism. The product, Hua's first in-licensing, is ready to start clinical trials. In return for exclusive global development, manufacturing and marketing rights, Hua has agreed to pay an upfront payment, milestones and royalties.

Shunfeng Pharma (SHE: 000999), China’s largest external-use drugmaker, is auctioning itself off to the highest bidder. The minimum price? $95 million. There is dissension between Shunfeng's minority shareholders and the company’s CEO. In addition, the company’s sales and profits are sliding lower. According to one insider, Sanjiu Medical and Pharma is the most likely to prevail in the auction.

Beijing Double-Crane Pharma (SHA: 600062) announced a small acquisition, saying it will pay $17.4 million to buy Henan Shuanghe Huali Pharma. The purchase will increase Double-Crane’s market share in transfusion products. Huali makes large volume injections, granular formulations and hard capsules.

Beijing SL Pharmaceutical (SHE: 002038) will establish a JV in Delaware with Lin Chai. The JV, which will be called Diapin Therapeutics, will focus on R&D for prevention or cure of diabetes. Beijing SL Pharma will invest $2 million in the JV for a 21% stake, while Lin Chai will contribute its Diapin project for the remaining 79%.

ForteBio, a venture backed company that makes instruments for biotech drug development, was acquired by Pall Corporation (NYSE: PLL) for an undisclosed sum (see story). ForteBio produces systems that enable real-time analysis of biomolecular interactions. Based in Menlo Park, Forte has a wholly-owned manufacturing subsidiary in Shanghai's Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park.

BioTime (AMEX: BTX) of the US has signed an agreement with USCN Life Science China, giving BioTime an option to license USCN's antibody-producing cell lines. BioTime and its OncoCyte subsidiary may use the cell lines to manufacture the antibody components of PanC-Dx, a novel technology designed to detect various cancers during routine check-ups.


Frontage Laboratories officially opened a renovated clinical-stage facility in Jilin University Hospital, which it has been operating since earlier this year. Frontage is a US-China CRO with a pre-clinical toxicology facility in Shanghai and a drug development operation in Beijing. The Jilin hospital facility will offer early phase oncology research studies.

Trials and Approvals

Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine (SHA: 600276) has been granted FDA approval for Irinotecan, an anti-cancer drug that is usually prescribed as part of a drug cocktail for colon cancer. According to Hengrui, the approval is the first given to a China company for an injected drug. The company said it plans to use the experience of its first FDA approval to accelerate plans for US and European acceptance of other drugs in its portfolio.

Company News

DSM Sinochem Pharma announced plans to build a manufacturing facility, located in Shandong province, which will produce semi-synthetic cephalosporins. The facility will use DSM Sinochem’s efficient biotech manufacturing process. The JV was formed earlier this year when Sinochem Pharma paid $291 million for a 50% stake in Royal DSM's global anti-infectives unit.

Disclosure: none.