MALVERN, Pa. & HAIMEN, China—Market expansion is the name of the game for a newly inked joint collaboration agreement between contract research organization (CRO) Reaction Biology Corp. (RBC) and China-based PharmaCore Labs (PCL) Co. Ltd. Per the terms of the agreement, PCL will provide business support and development personnel to RBC, in addition to a staging facility for shipping compounds to the United States. In return, RBC will make its entire offering of biochemical, cell and in-vivo assay services available for PCL to distribute in China.
Dr. Haiching Ma, chief science officer of RBC, said, “While we have dozens of customers in China currently, the market is much bigger than we could address remotely. We’ve found that PCL has a deep knowledge of the China drug discovery market, and we’re happy to have their local expertise available to serve hundreds of potential customers in China. We offer services that are not otherwise available in China, including the largest panel of profiling and screening assays for over 730 kinases and 300-plus epigenetic targets, cell-based target engagement assays and hollow fiber in-vivo assays.”
PharmaCore Labs is a Chinese-foreign joint venture enterprise located in Haimen, Jiangsu Province, and is the first company in China to offer complete preclinical cardiac safety assessment platforms and ion channel-targeted drug development. The company’s portfolio of testing platforms spans from cellular options to live animals.
For its part, Ma notes that Reaction Biology offers a variety of services for pre-IND work, such as “biological target validation, protein production, assay development, biochemical and biophysical high-throughput screening, large drug target panels profiling, MOA studies, cell-based assays for target engagement, drug toxicity and efficacy, cardiac safety, metabolism research, and in-vivo animal models for a broad range of common cancer types and special needs or immuno-oncology purposes.” He adds that RBC is a market leader specifically in kinome drug discovery services, epigenetic drug discovery services and the development of high-quality, specific assays.
“RBC has a unique portfolio of services. Since more and more Chinese companies are gearing up to do early-stage drug discovery, we believe the Chinese market will generate significant demand. PCL is one of the well-known CROs in China focusing on ion channel drug discovery and cardiac safety, with a client base covering over 50 percent of Chinese pharmaceutical research labs. Our list of contacts in this industry will want to hear more from RBC,” commented Dr. Howard Zhang, president of PCL.
Ma reports that RBC has more than 80 customers from China, consisting primarily of startup drug discovery companies and universities, as well as a few CROs. He says that drug discovery startups are on the rise in China, leading to increased demand for CRO services, pointing out that Reaction Biology fits this need very well.
“Based on a PharmaCore labs estimation, there are potentially over 500 companies and universities that have broad drug discovery programs, and we are connected with merely a small portion of them. Therefore, our interests in accessing this large potential market within China cannot be understated,” Ma remarks.
Ma tells DDN that China boasts “the fastest-growing drug discovery activity in the world, with strong financial supports in the healthcare business. China also has a large number of CROs and reagent companies that can all benefit from our services.”
“Our customer numbers in China have grown substantially in the past few years,” he adds. “There is an urgent need for us to be present in China not only to reach new customers, but also because helping our existing customers to fully utilize our high-quality services is of great import to us.”
According to Ma, this agreement is open-ended, but both companies expect it to be a long-term arrangement given the anticipated benefits.
“Both companies are providing pre-IND services with different focuses. There is no competition between the two companies—rather, we are more synergetic,” says Ma. “[Zhang’s] customers will greatly benefit from the broad range of services and unique products that RBC is able to provide. We can also introduce RBC’s large global customer base to his business and can access his special ion channel cell lines if needed for our customers. PharmaCore is located close to Shanghai, and this can provide BD and sale services to a large number of biotech companies in Shanghai and Suzhou cities, which is home to more than half of China’s drug companies and bio-startups.”
“With the familiarity of doing business in China and overseas, PharmaCore can help our customers to ship to and/or receive testing materials from our U.S. and Germany sites, which is a headache that some customers do not want to deal with. PharmaCore is able to help our Chinese customers in preparation of IND filing in China. Through PharmaCore, customers who may have no U.S. currency funding are still able to pay for our services with Chinese currency,” he concludes.