A look of the major listed cell immunotherapy companies in China

A look of the major listed cell immunotherapy companies in China

The summer of 2017 is the start of the golden age for cell immunotherapy. Since the end of June, there is no shortage of attention in this red-hot market.

On June 29th, Sanpower Group, the Chinese pharma giant, has announced its acquisition of Dendreon with $819 million. The core product of the latter is the world’s first and only FDA-approved prostate cancer cell immunotherapy drug, Provenge. Currently, Sanpower Groups is working closely with the CFDA to bring it into the mass population.

On July 13th, the milestone event of the cell immunotherapy field happened. The FDA advisory committee held a meeting to assess Novartis’s CAR-T therapy CTL-019. With a 10:0 vote, it has been recommended to treat patients with relapsed or refractory (r/r) pediatric and young adult with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), marking the first CAR-T therapy entering the market.

“As the first global pediatric CAR-T cell therapy, ELIANA clinical trials have been carrying out in 25 medical centers across the world, including the United States, Canada, the European Union, Australia, and Japan. Next, Novartis will continue to invest in the production of CTL-019.” Commented by Bruno Strigini, the CEO at Novartis Oncology.

And there is more to come. On August 28th, just a month after Novartis’s historical approval, Gilead has penned a deal with Kite Pharma to acquire its refractory aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma CAR-T therapy with $180 per share in all cash, amounting to a nearly $12 billion in total.

On another note, Merck’s Keytruda was approved for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with a biomarker referred as microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR). This is the first time that the agency has approved a cancer treatment based on a common biomarker rather than the location in the body where the tumor originated.

In this article, I am going to discuss the development of cell immunotherapy in China, along with all major listed companies in the field.

The development of cell immunotherapy in China

A slew of Chinese biopharmas has established themselves at the forefront of the CAR-T therapy race. In April 2016, WuXi AppTec and Juno have co-founded JW Biotechnology to collaborate on the development of CAR-T therapy; in January 2017, Fosun, the Shanghai pharma giant, has fork over $80 million and started a joint venture with Kite Pharma to further explore the market. Others, including Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine, Zhongyuan Union Stem Cell Bioengineering, 3SBio, etc., have also entered the competition.  On the other side of the pond, the competition in the PD-1 monoclonal antibody and immunological checkpoint inhibitor market is no less intense. A number of companies have made a play to grab a slice of the market. Hengrui Medicine has entered a phase 3 clinical trial for its PD-1 monoclonal antibody, as well as beefing up its pipeline in other immunological treatments, such as PD-L1 and IDO. Junshi Pharma’s PD-1 monoclonal antibody has entered a phase 2 clinical testing; BeiGene has two candidates in the pipeline, one PD-1 monoclonal antibody in the phase 1 and one PD-L1 antibody in the preclinical research. Fosun Pharma, armed with China’s top biological drug research and development platform, is pushing out its own PD-1 and PD-L1 treatments.

Major listed cell immunotherapy companies

Shanghai Canature Envim

Shanghai Canature Envim is slated to back Origincell with $15 million to establish its immune cell program, aiming to further develop its cell storage and application services. Through technical cooperation and investment, it is well placed to work closely with Chinese and oversea research institutions and experts to carry out studies in a number of cell immunotherapy technologies, including tumor therapy, tumor immunity, anti-aging, immunity enhancement, etc.

Guanhao Biotech 

Guanhao Biotech has inked a deal with Taiwan Vectorite Biomedical and paid down a total of $1.6 million to obtain the exclusive license right of immune cell storage technology in China. Over the years, Vectorite Biomedical has established itself as the leader in cell immunotherapy technology; its optimized immune cell bank, secured a SymboLOF National Quality (SNQ) label back in 2011, is the first Taiwan company to obtain that certification. Currently, equipped with self-developed independent T cell preparation technology, Vectorite is leading the pack in immune cell extraction, storage, recovery, and treatment.

Shanghai Haixin Group

Shanghai Hisun-Biotechnology, a subsidiary company under Shanghai Haixin Group, has codeveloped antigen-pulsed dendritic cells (APDC) with Shanghai Secondary Military Medical University.  This is the first CFDA approved and China independently developed cell therapy vaccine for advanced colorectal cancer.

“The highlight of this study is to use chemotherapy to remove part of the immunosuppressive factors and apply antigen-pulsed DCs to stimulate tumor-specific immune response at the same time. Together, they kill tumor cells. This therapy has achieved good clinical results and is considered as one of the most effective tumor immunotherapy so far. “Commented by the project lead Xuehong Cao, the academician from the immunology institute of Shanghai Secondary Military Medical University

Zhuhai Hokai Medical

At the 69th China International Medical Equipment Fair(CMEF), held from April 17th to 20th 2013 in Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center, Hokai surprised everyone with a range of upgraded new products, including minimal invasive cancer treatment, medical gas and purification system, medical imaging, bio-electronics, CD-CIK cell therapy, routine treatment, blood purification system, etc. It has sparked widespread interests across the spectrum of the pharmaceutical industry.

Zhongyuan Union Stem Cell Bioengineering 

In 2012, Heze Biotechnology, a subsidiary company under Zhongyuan Union Stem Cell Bioengineering, has penned a deal with UK Cell Therapy Limited (CTL) to acquire the exclusive licensing right of its autologous mesodermal stromal cell therapy. Under this agreement, Heze Biotechnology can apply this technology to the treatment of heart failures in clinics and has obtained associated proprietary technologies related to the clinical application. It is clear that the future of Zhongyuan is to develop both stem cell therapy and gene technology.

Xiangxue Pharmaceutical

Xiangxue Pharmaceutical is stepping up its effort to drive forward research into cell immunotherapy. In the wake of an 8-year partnership with the Chinese 458 hospital from March 31st, 2014 to March 30th, 2022, Xiangxue is slated to establish a research center, in the hopes of codeveloping specific T cell therapies.

Zhejiang CONBA Pharmaceutical 

With the goal of developing new alpha fetoprotein (AFP) therapies, Zhejiang CONBA Pharmaceutical has conceded a deal to form a joint venture with Kite Pharma. Under the agreement, CONBA will fork over $1 million, acquiring 70% of the share, whereas Kite will deploy its knowledge in cell immunotherapy, holding the other 30%. The pair has granted the joint company with all the exclusive licenses of the AFP project in mainland China, including patents and other confidential technologies.

Shanghai Yaoji Playing

With $20 million investment, Yaoji Playing has acquired 22% share of Shanghai Engineering Center of Cell Therapy, founded in November 2013. Currently, its main businesses are to provide technology development, research, and consulting services. In the future, the company is strategized to further develop its capabilities in cancer cell immunotherapy, cancer gene detection, cell preservation and medical big data.

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