Week In Review: CICC Capital Closes $229 Million China Fund For Biologics

Coronavirus Outbreak

Harvard University and the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health will collaborate to fight COVID-19 over the next five years in an effort funded for $115 million (see story). The funding was provided by China Evergrande Group. The researchers plan to elucidate the basic biology of the virus, which will be used to design therapeutics/vaccines, develop accurate rapid diagnostics and identify biomarkers. The effort will include Harvard Medical School researchers, led by Dean George Q. Daley, along with Dr. Nanshan Zhong of the Guangzhou Institute, a pulmonologist and epidemiologist who heads China's 2019n-CoV Expert Taskforce. Dr. Zhong discovered the SARS vaccine in 2003.

WuXi Biologics (HK: 2269) of Shanghai formed a collaboration with San Francisco's Vir Biotech (VIR) to develop mAbs that treat COVID-19 (see story). By examining people who survived the SARS infection, Vir used its technology to identify several mAbs that bind to SARS-CoV-2. It will test these molecules to see if they are effective treatments for COVID-19. WuXi, which will be in charge of developing and manufacturing any promising candidates, will have China rights to any approved treatments developed by the collaboration, while Vir will own rest-of-the-world commercialization rights.

Gilead Sciences has started two Phase III clinical trials of remdesivir in adults diagnosed with COVID-19 (see story). These randomized, open-label, multicenter studies will enroll approximately 1,000 patients at medical centers primarily in Asian countries. One study will randomize 400 patients with severe cases of COVID-19 to receive either five or 10 days of remdesivir. The second trial will randomize 600 patients with moderate disease to receive five or 10 days of remdesivir or standard of care alone.

Ascletis Pharma (HK: 1672) of Hangzhou started a China trial of its combination of Ganovo® and Ritonavir as a COVID-19 treatment (see story). The trial, led by Dr. Hongyi Chen, the director of the Ninth Hospital of Nanchang, has already discharged three patients who met China standards for recovery from the infection. Ganovo®, Ascletis' oral protease inhibitor for hepatitis C virus, was approved for China use in June 2018. Ritonavir is a generic antiretroviral often used as part of combination treatments for HIV/AIDS.

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