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2020-04-08| Asia-PacificCOVID-19

Weekly Cover:Updates on COVID-19 in Asia

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By Ching-Hsu Yang

1.Updates on COVID-19 in Asia

According to figures collected by the Johns Hopkins University, the epidemic has infected more than 1.44 million people, and has deprived 82,074 lives globally.

As the entire world is combating the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies are ramping up to develop usable vaccines and detection kits. Below are several new progresses happening in the Asia-Pacific area.

On March 31, FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd. announced the initiation of phase III clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Avigan Tablet (generic name: favipiravir), an influenza antiviral drug, in Japan.

On April 3, Tencent Holdings Ltd. announced the deepened collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) through a US$10 million donation to WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, and an agreement to open source its digital health solutions to help the global fight against the pandemic.

On April 7, Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL), a major vaccine manufacturer, has officially declared its partnership with Griffith University, a public research university on the east coast of Australia, to begin research into vaccine production utilizing the new codon de-optimization technology.

About FUJIFILM Toyama

FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd. was formed in 2018 through the merger of Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd., and FUJIFILM RI Pharma Co., Ltd., to accelerate the development of diagnostic and therapeutic drugs. The Company focuses on the research, development, manufacture, and sales of radiopharmaceuticals and small molecule pharmaceutical products.

About Tencent

Tencent Holdings Limited is a Chinese multinational IT company founded in 1998. Its subsidiaries cover various fields, such as Internet-related services and products, entertainment, artificial intelligence and technology, both in China and globally.

About Indian Immunologicals Limited

Indian Immunologicals Limited is one of the largest vaccine manufacturers in the world. It was established by the National Dairy Development Board, under an act of parliament of India, in 1983. The Company has facilities and biotechnology laboratories in Hyderabad, Ooty and Rajkot, India.

2. Eisai and Seikagaku to Co-develop and Market SI-613 in China

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis that affects millions of people worldwide, is a disease caused by articular cartilage deterioration related to aging and other causes, contributing to inflammation and discomfort.

On 1 April, Eisai Co., Ltd. and Seikagaku Corp. revealed that the companies had entered into a co-development and commercial partnership in China for SI-613, a potential therapeutic agent for osteoarthritis discovered by Seikagaku.

Under this agreement, Eisai aims to contribute to patients with knee osteoarthritis, Seikagaku will manage to maximize the value of the drug in China by leveraging Eisai’s business base in China.

Via the development and commercialization of SI-613, the companies will provide new treatment options in China for knee osteoarthritis and further enhance the quality of life (QOL) of patients.

About the drug

Diclofenac etalhyaluronate (SI-613) is a compound formed using Seikagaku’s proprietary drug-binding technology to chemically bond hyaluronic acid and diclofenac. This material has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects and is designed to be sustained-released by a drug delivery system.

About Eisai

Eisai Co., Ltd. is the world’s largest pharmacy research and manufacturing firm based in Japan. The company positions oncology as a main field of study and aims to create innovative novel cancer drugs.

About Seikagaku

Seikagaku Corporation primarily produces complicated carbohydrate-based drugs and raw materials for pharmaceutical products. The Company also produces and markets clinical reagents, diagnosis reagents, external medicine, medical equipment, and health food, etc.

3. Ping An Insurance Partners with Japanese Drugmaker Shionogi

Osaka-based pharmaceutical company Shionogi & Company, Ltd., best known for developing cholesterol treatment Crestor, stated on Monday that the company is forming a joint venture with Ping An Insurance, with the aim of discovering, distributing and developing novel drugs and generic drugs, as it looks to expand in China.

According to the announcement, Shionogi & Co. is selling a 2.05% voting stake for 33.53 billion yen ($311 million) to Ping An. Shionogi’s shares rose 2.8% in Tokyo trading before the announcement, versus a 1.6% drop in the broader market.

About Shionogi & Company

Established in 1878 and incorporated in 1919, Shionogi & Company, Ltd. is a Japanese pharmaceutical company best known for developing Crestor and a producer of antimicrobial and antibiotics. The company is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Osaka Securities Exchange and is constituent of the Nikkei 225 stock index.

About Ping An Insurance

Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd. is a Chinese holding conglomerate that mainly deals with insurance, banking, and financial services. Ping An ranked 7th on the Forbes Global 2000 list and 29th on the Fortune Global 500 list.

4. Samsung Biologics and PharmAbcine Enter into Partnership for Oncology and Neovascular Treatment

On April 6, Samsung Biologics announced that it has signed a contract developing organization (CDO) agreement with PharmAbcine, for the development and manufacturing of PMC-402, a next generation therapeutic candidate to treat oncology and neovascular disorders.

Under this agreement, Samsung will provide services from cell line development, process development, cGMP clinical manufacturing to investigational new drug (IND) filing support, as well as non-clinical and global clinical substance production. PharmAbcine plans to expand the indication to eye diseases such as wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

About the drug

PMC-402 is a substance that assists in the normalization of proliferated capillaries, and is expected to enhance the delivery of immune cells and cancer therapeutics to treat tumor cells, both as a monotherapy and a combination therapy with immuno-cancer drugs. PharmAbcine will test the safety of PMC-402 and initiate phase I clinical trial by 2021 through this collaboration.

About PharmAbcine

PharmAbcine is a clinical-stage biotech company developing fully human therapeutic antibodies to treat cancer and neovascular disease. Olinvacimab, the company’s lead molecule, is currently in phase II clinical trials for a combination therapy to treat cancer with Merck’s Keytruda.

About Samsung Biologics

Samsung Biologics is a full service provider of cGMP contract manufacturing for the global biopharmaceutical industry. The Samsung subsidiary started out in April 2011 as a contract manufacturing organization, bridged out to contract development business in 2018 and is quickly expanding. The Company’s facilities are custom designed for monoclonal and recombinant production.

5. CStone Submits New Drug Application for Avapritinib in Taiwan

On January 9, 2020, Avapritinib, an oral, potent and highly selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor, became the first and only precision therapy approved for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) harboring a PDGFRA exon 18 mutation, including PDGFRA D842V mutations.

Avapritinib was developed by CStone Pharmaceuticals’s partner Blueprint Medicines, a leader in discovering and developing targeted kinase treatments, in 2018.

On July 10, 2019, CStone announced the dosing of the first patient in the phase III VOYAGER study in China, for the safety and efficacy evaluation of avapritinib.

On March 9, 2020, the Company received priority review designation from the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA), and subsequently, submitted a New Drug Application (NDA) to the TFDA on March 27.

About CStone

Cstone Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company devoted to the development of a new generation of innovative drugs with a focus on immuno-oncology based combination therapies and precision medicines.

References

  1. https://www.fujifilm.com/news/n200331_02.html
  2. https://www.tencent.com/en-us/articles/2201024.html
  3. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/indian-immunologicals-joins-hands-with-australias-griffith-university-to-develop-covid-19-vaccine/articleshow/75027609.cms
  4. https://www.eisai.com/news/2020/news202017.html
  5. https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/japan-drugmaker-shionogi-to-tie-up-with-ping-an-as-eyes-china-expansion-2020-03-30 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-shionogi-ping-an-of-china/japan-drugmaker-shionogi-to-tie-up-with-ping-an-as-eyes-china-expansion-idUSKBN21H0WK
  6. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Pharmaceuticals/Alzheimer-s-trials-Samsung-biotech-arm-joins-Taiwan-startup
  7. http://www.cstonepharma.com/en/html/news/2307.html

 

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