The latest pharma and healthcare news from Southeast Asia, including the partnership between KPJ Healthcare and Samsung; Specialised Therapeutics’ immuno-oncology therapy; Singapore biotech CytoMed Therapeutics’ IPO, the Malaysian approval of Astrazeneca’s Evusheld and CAR T-cell immunotherapy innovation in Thailand.


Singapore-Sweden research reveals promising stem cell approach for restoring vision in blindness (BioSpectrum Asia)

A preclinical study using stem cells to produce progenitor photoreceptor cells—light-detecting cells found in the eye—and then transplanting these into experimental models of damaged retinas has resulted in significant vision recovery. This finding, by scientists at Duke-NUS Medical School, the Singapore Eye Research Institute and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, marks a first step towards potentially restoring vision in eye diseases characterised by photoreceptor loss.


Specialised Therapeutics to commercialise new cancer therapy in Australia and Southeast Asia (BioSpectrum Asia)

Singapore-headquartered biopharmaceutical company Specialised Therapeutics Asia will partner with CTTQ-Akeso Biomed. Tech. Co. and Chia Tai Tianqing Pharmaceutical Group Co. to commercialise a new immuno-oncology therapy in AustraliaSingapore and across Southeast Asia. The therapy ANNIKO (penpulimab) is an anti-PD1 monoclonal antibody currently under regulatory review by the US FDA for nasopharyngeal carcinoma – a difficult to treat form of head and neck cancer.


Gov’t to Earmark Up to Rp 200.8 Trillion for Healthcare Next Year (Jakarta Globe)

The Finance Ministry is planning to earmark up to Rp 200.8 trillion (USD 13.4 billion) for the 2024 healthcare budget, as the government gets increasingly concerned about Indonesia’s stunting prevalence and high tuberculosis incidence. The Finance Ministry is allocating Rp 178.7 trillion for healthcare in 2023. It is the first time in years that the government no longer sets aside a specific amount for Covid-19. And in 2024, the ministry plans to become more generous with its healthcare spending.


Samsung to advance precision medicine, diagnostics in Malaysia (BioSpectrum Asia)

KPJ Healthcare Bhd and Samsung Electronics Co. have entered into a collaboration aimed at advancing precision medicine and diagnostics in Malaysia. The two groups plan to explore innovative technologies and collaborative opportunities over the next six months via a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed recently. To ensure seamless synchronisation throughout the discussions, LAC Medical Supplies Sdn Bhd will be playing the key role as facilitator for the collaboration, ensuring the provision of complete information, services, and training requirements. LAC Medical is a leading provider of medical equipment, devices and biomedical services in Malaysia.


Malaysia approves additional indication for Astrazeneca’s Evusheld (Pharmaceutical Technology)

The Malaysian Ministry of Health (MoH) has reportedly approved additional indication of Astrazeneca’s Evusheld 100mg/ml solution for injection (Tixagevimab 100mg/ml and Cilgavimab 100mg/ml) for Covid-19 prevention. Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah stated that the approval of Evusheld was granted at the 383rd Drug Control Authority (DCA) meeting. The approval comes after the therapy was granted conditional registration approval during the 372nd DCA meeting.


Thailand makes progress in CAR T-Cell Therapy Innovation (BioSpectrum Asia)

Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, and Nagoya University, Japan, in their collaboration to develop an immunotherapy method for curing cancer, have reported on the progress of CAR T-cell immunotherapy innovation for treating cancer in leukaemia and B-cell lymphoma patients, which can increase survival rates and reduce cancer recurrence. The Cell and Gene Therapy Manufacturing Centre is the first and only cell production facility in the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital that has been certified by the Food and Drug Administration of Thailand.


Pharmaniaga concession agreement extended, confirms minister (FMT)

Pharmaniaga Bhd’s concession agreement to provide medicine and medical supplies to health ministry facilities has been extended, confirms health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa. Pharmaniaga was given a conditional agreement to continue supplying medical supplies to the government for 10 years in January 2022 subject to the agreement on the terms, which were supposed to be finalised before Dec 31, 2022.


Singaporean cell therapy biotech with off-the-shelf ambitions wraps modest IPO (Endpoints)

Almost five months after first filing for an IPO, a small Singaporean cell therapy biotech is landing on the Nasdaq. CytoMed Therapeutics managed to raise slightly more than USD 9.6 million by pricing its stock at USD 4 per share. The sum will substantially boost CytoMed’s reserves, which it counted at around USD 1.07 million as of last June.


WHO: Cambodia attains significant achievements in health care in past decades (Vietnam Plus)

Cambodia has made a number of achievements in the development of the health sector in the past decades, said a joint statement released by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) on April 7 on the occasion of the 75th founding anniversary of WHO. According to the statement, life expectancy has risen dramatically in Cambodia, reaching 76 years old as of 2022, the statement said, adding that 99 percent of women now give birth with a skilled health provider, an increase from just over one in three women in 2000.