The China venture capital explosion, already seen in 2016, continues at record levels in 2017, driving development in China's life sciences. According to data compiled by ChinaBio Group, China life science venture/private equity funds have raised $45 billion and invested $12 billion over the past 30 months. They closed $20 billion in new funds during 2016 and are on track to hit $30 billion this year. At this rate, they could raise a total of $60 billion over three years, a promise of continuing support for China life science companies. "It's the best time ever to be a life science entrepreneur in China," summarized Greg Scott, Founder and CEO of ChinaBio.
GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) will shut down its Shanghai neurological R&D operations in Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park as part of a corporate reorganization that will focus the company's R&D work into several key areas: respiratory and HIV/infectious diseases, along with a lesser emphasis on oncology and immuno-inflammation. The overall restructuring, which will jettison some 30 current GSK projects, was announced by new GSK CEO Emma Walmsley, who has spent time working in Shanghai as Head of GSK's China Consumer Products division. GSK's Beijing-based vaccine R&D operations are not affected by the cuts. Despite the changes, GSK told Fierce Pharma it will expand in China to "accelerate the development of new medicines."
Shanghai Fosun Pharma's (SHA: 600196; HK: 2196) $1.3 billion acquisition of a majority stake in India's Gland Pharma is in trouble. It may be rejected by India, not because of the deal itself, but because China and India are in a military stand-off over a small piece of land in the Himalayas, according to a Bloomberg article. The two countries fought a border war over the territory in 1962, and now the border is back in dispute. The Fosun-Gland deal could end up being collateral damage in a larger conflict between the world's two most populous nations.
WuXi AppTech will merge its Pharmaceutical Development Services division into STA Pharma, a WuXi listed subsidiary that provides small molecule CRO/CMO services. The transfer adds formulation/finished drug services into STA's API and intermediate manufacturing offerings. PDS offers pre-formulation and formulation development, along with clinical trial material manufacturing and packaging services. WuXi said the merger will offer clients a complete set of manufacturing services for small molecule drugs, speeding up the development process.
While announcing 2017 first-half financial results, Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med) (AIM/NSDQ: HCM) provided a broad overview of its wide-ranging innovative drug portfolio. Comprised of eight drug small-molecule candidates, the portfolio is currently involved in 31 clinical trials. There are many signs of progress: earlier this year, Chi-Med filed its first NDA, a request for China approval of fruquintinib, a VEGFR inhibitor, as a treatment for colorectal cancer. Chi-Med also started its first global Phase III registration trial (for savolitinib), and it has five other pivotal Phase III studies underway with three more close to starting.
Trials and Approvals
ViroMed (KOSDAQ: 084990) of South Korea has begun dosing patients in a US Phase III trial of VM202, a gene therapy drug, in patients with non-healing diabetic foot ulcers and concomitant peripheral artery disease. Earlier this year, ViroMed filed in China to start a Phase III trial of VM202 in patients with critical limb ischemia, an advanced state of peripheral artery disease. When injected into muscles, VM202 is intended to induce new microvasculature and alleviate a number of conditions associated with diabetes and loss of peripheral arteries.