Week In Review: 2018 Results: China Life Science Investment Hits Record Levels

Betta Pharma (SZE: 300558) of Hangzhou will pay up to $33.5 million in upfront and R&D milestones to in-license China rights for a third-generation EGFR inhibitor discovered by InventisBio (Shanghai) (see story). The two companies will co-develop the drug in China, but Betta will have exclusive commercialization rights. InventisBio is currently conducting a China Phase I trial of D-0316, a potential treatment for EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer. Betta already offers China's best-selling product for EFGR mutant lung cancer, icotinib (Conmana®).  

Athenex (Nasdaq: ATNX), a US-China company, out-licensed Chinacommercialization rights for KX2-391, an actinic keratosis/oncology treatment, to Chongqing Jingdong Junzhuo Pharma (see story). Athenex will receive an upfront payment of $14.5 million and milestones of up to $15 million, plus tiered royalties starting at 15%. KX2-391 is a first-in-class dual Src kinase and tubulin polymerization inhibitor; KX2-391 ointment is a topical treatment for actinic keratosis in Phase III development. Athenex will be responsible for China development of the products; Jingdong will be in charge of commercialization. 

Trials and Approvals 

Zai Lab (Nasdaq: ZLAB) has launched its electric fields treatment for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in Hong Kong (see story). In September, Zai acquired greater China rights to Novocure's (Nasdaq: NVCR) Optune, paying $15 million upfront plus sales milestones. Optune is not yet approved for mainland China use. The product uses electric fields tuned to specific frequencies to disrupt cell division, inhibiting tumor growth and causing the death of affected cancer cells. Zai's in-licensed PARP inhibitor is also available in Hong Kong.

 Ascletis Pharma (HK: 1672) of Hangzhou reported that China's NMPA accepted its filing for an investigational new drug application (IND) of its third HCV drug, ASC21 (see story). Ascletis said ASC21 has shown potent, pan-genotypic anti-viral activity along with a high genetic barrier to resistance in in vitro studies. In mid-2018, Ascletis launched Ganovo® in China, the company's first approved innovative HCV treatment. Its second candidate, Ravidasvir, is currently under review by the NMPA. Because each of the three drugs has a different mechanism of action, Ascletis believes it will offer treatment for all varieties of HCV.

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