Deals and Financings
China Resources and its partner will acquire a majority stake in GenesisCare, Australia's largest provider of radiation oncology and cardiology services, at a valuation of $1.3 billion. China Resources plans to expand Genesis's services into China. In Australia, GenesisCare has 27 cancer treatment centers, 10 major cardiac centers and 70 smaller cardiac centers. CR, a state-owned conglomerate, is joined in the acquisition by Sydney-based investment bank Macquarie Group.
Genexine, a Korean biotech, raised $70 million from a combination of 14 Korean investors, its China partner Tasly Pharma and one other non-Korean investor. In 2015, Tasly acquired China rights for three novel Genexine drug candidates in a deal worth as much as $100 million, plus Tasly paid an unspecified amount for global rights to in-license two other drugs. Genexine, which has three drug candidates in clinical trials, focuses on treatments for cancer and orphan diseases based on its long-acting Fc fusion and therapeutic DNA technologies.
Jilin Zixin Pharma will invest $42 million in Nabsys 2.0, a US company that has developed a high-definition genome mapping technology. After the transaction, Zixin will own 67% of Nabsys. Nabsys, which claims to be an electronic mapping pioneer, uses proprietary chip-based nanodetectors for single-molecule DNA mapping. It expects its technology will allow structural variation analysis, genome mapping, and in the future, DNA sequencing. The fundraising values Nabsys at $63 million.
DiaMedica (OTCQB:DMCAF)(TSX:DMA), a US-Canada biopharma, raised $4 million from China's Hermed Capital Healthcare Fund. Hermed was formed by Shanghai Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196; HK: 02196) and SK Group, a South Korean conglomerate. DiaMedica is developing DM199, a purified form of recombinant tissue kallikrien (rhKLK-1) protein, which activates several metabolic pathways and, through vasodilation, improves blood flow. DiaMedical's DM199 is a proposed treatment for ischemic stroke and kidney disease.
Zhejiang Hisun Pharma (SHA: 600267) in-licensed China rights to pritumumab, a epithelial cancer mAb being developed by Nascent Biotech (OTCQB:NBIO) of Florida. Epithelial cancers include cancers of the brain, pancreas, colon, lung and breast. Nascent has not yet filed for US clinical trials of pritumumab, though it expects to complete a Phase I trial in the next 12 to 18 months. Hisun will have exclusive China rights to pritumumab, including manufacturing.
Trials and Approvals
China will be the first country to test CRISPR gene editing techniques in humans. Regulators have given researchers from Sichuan University's West China Hospital approval to modify genes of lung cancer patients who have failed conventional cancer treatments. The researchers will extract genetic material from patients, turn off the PD-1 gene that prevents the patient's immune system from attacking the cancer, multiply the cells in the lab, and reintroduce the modified cells into the patient.
GSK (NYSE:GSK) announced China approval for Cervarix™, a human papillomavirus (Types 16, 18) vaccine, as a preventative for cervical cancer, the first HPV vaccine approved for use in China. GSK said it is willing to work with China authorities towards a "innovative pricing" strategy so that the vaccine is included in public cancer immunization programs. The vaccine is indicated for use in girls and women aged 9-25 years with a three-dose regimen. GSK China expects to launch Cervarix in early 2017.
Government and Regulatory
Sinopharm, China's largest state-owned pharma, has submitted a plan to China's Assets Supervision and Administration Commission that would strengthen the power of its Board of Directors. Two years ago, Sinopharm was chosen as a pilot program for reform of China's state-owned enterprises as a way to make the SOEs more competitive, a mixed-ownership plan. A more powerful Board would implement market-based strategies for Sinopharm, reducing the power of the government to make decisions for China's largest pharma. Sinopharm is formally known as China National Pharmaceutical Group.
Editor's Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.