A roundup of some of the biggest pharma and biotech news from China including the approval of two domestically developed COVID treatments; Daewoong’s idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis licensing deal, Roche’s gastric cancer partnership with CARsgen; Sino Biopharm’s continued attempt to buyout of F-star Therapeutics and Takeda’s deal with Hutchmed for a colorectal cancer drug.


China approves two domestically developed COVID drugs (Reuters)

China has approved two domestically developed oral medicines for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms, the National Medical Products Administration said.

The drugs, used for treating adult patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 infections, have been developed by Simcere Pharmaceutical Group and a unit of Shanghai Junshi Biosciences Co Ltd, the administration said in a statement on its website.


Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp signs collaboration with Roche (BioSpectrum Asia Edition)

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP) Corporation has announced a strategic collaboration with Roche with the aim of leading HK and the Greater Bay Area (GBA) in becoming a pioneer in life science innovation and to be an example for the region. This collaboration is the first agreement between HKSTP and a life science corporation for multidimensional collaboration, including technology and data sharing.

HKSTP and Roche are dedicated in their support for advancing life science innovation and healthcare policy. Both parties are hoping to provide a greater platform and support to startups based in HK and mainland China, and creating an ecosystem for healthcare startups.


China-based startup ReLive Biotechnologies strengthens presence in regenerative therapy market (BioSpectrum Asia Edition)

ReLive Biotechnologies, founded in 2021, has completed the acquisition of all operating assets of Germany-listed biotech Co.Don AG, taking over the global patent rights of its flagship products “Spherox” and “Chondrosphere”.

“Spherox” is one of the only two authorised cell therapy for the regenerative treatment of articular cartilage defects globally. It was authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for distribution across Europe in 2017.


Daewoong USD 336 M deal with CS Pharma for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis treatment in China (BioSpectrum Asia Edition)

South Korea’s Daewoong Pharmaceutical has secured an exclusive licensing agreement with CS Pharmaceuticals, a UK-based multinational company focused on the development and commercialisation of rare disease and ophthalmology products in China, for a first-in-class PRS inhibitor Bersiporocin in the Greater China region, including mainland ChinaHong KongTaiwan, and Macau.

Under this agreement, CSP will in-license Bersiporocin for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and potentially other fibrotic indications for a total consideration of up to USD 336 million, including up to USD 76 million in upfront and development milestone payments and double-digit royalties on Net Sales.


China-based startup CARsgen partners with Roche for gastric cancer treatment (BioSpectrum Asia Edition)

CARsgen, a biopharmaceutical startup based in the US and China, has announced a collaboration agreement with Roche to evaluate CARsgen’s investigational drug AB011, the first humanised monoclonal antibody against Claudin18.2 (CLDN18.2) that received IND clearance globally, in combination with atezolizumab, Roche’s PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor, along with standard-of-care chemotherapy in patients with gastric or gastroesophageal junction carcinoma.

Under the terms of the agreement, Roche will be responsible for operation and conduct of the trial while both companies co-share the costs of the AB011 treatment arms in the study. As part of the clinical collaboration, CARsgen’s proprietary CLDN18.2 IHC test kit, which has showed excellent specificity and sensitivity profiles, will be applied to evaluate CLDN18.2 expression in the gastric cancer patients.


Sino Biopharm’s ill-fated F-star buyout nears deal with U.S. government (Fierce Pharma)

Sino Biopharm might be able to buy F-star Therapeutics after all. The Chinese company, through its InVox subsidiary, inked a deal in June 2022 to buy the bispecific antibody specialist. But the national-security-focused Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. put the acquisition on hold late 2022. Now, in a securities filing, the two companies said they are “in the late stages of negotiating definitive terms” of an agreement with the U.S. authorities.


IASO Bio Raises Nearly $75 Million in Series C1 Funding (PR Newswire)

IASO Biotherapeutics, a clinical-stage cell therapies and antibodies company announced the completion of nearly USD 75 million in Series C1 funding. Eleven investment organizations participated in this investment round, including Shanghai Guoxin Investment & Development, Efung Capital, Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone Group, Nanjing Jiangbei New Area State-owned Asset Management, Housen Care Brothers, and Hongcheng Investment. The funding will support research and development of the company’s pipeline products, and the commercial launch of its core product Equecabtagene Autoleucel.


Updated: Takeda bets $400M cash on colorectal cancer drug in boost to China’s Hutchmed (Endpoints)

Takeda is wagering USD 400 million on what it sees as a promising new treatment for colorectal cancer and one that had been approved in China for five years.

The deal gives Takeda exclusive rights to fruquintinib, an oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) 1/2/3, everywhere outside of mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. Hutchmed, the original developer of the drug, has already lined up new drug submissions in the US, EU and Japan for 2023.