ADELAIDE, South Australia—An Australian university has teamed up with a leading Chinese pharmaceutical company to develop new cancer treatments. Yabao Pharmaceutical Co. Inc., founded in 1978, is a specialty pharmaceutical company with fully integrated technology development, product development, manufacturing and commercialization capabilities, with headquarters in the Shanxi province of China.
Yabao and the University of South Australia (UniSA) will collaborate on targeted cancer therapeutics. The collaboration will establish what they call “a true joint drug discovery lab,” which is co-funded and co-led by both sides, according to news releases from both parties.
Under the terms of the agreement, the university will identify drug candidates in the co-funded laboratory, which will be led by Dr. Shudong Wang, a professor at UniSA. Yabao Pharmaceuticals will fund the drug discovery and development in exchange for the exclusive right to develop and commercialize the drug candidates in China. The University of South Australia will retain rights in all other markets.
Yabao Pharmaceutical’s president of research and development, Dr. Peng Wang, says Yabao seeks to build relationships with organizations that have innovative programs that complement the company’s development and commercial capabilities, adding, “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the University of South Australia’s highly regarded scientists and laboratories to jointly find a way to develop important new treatments for cancer patients.”
According to Peng Wang, who is also CEO and chief scientific officer of Suzhou Yabao Pharmaceutical R&D Co.—a start-up focusing on innovative R&D in China for the world through international collaboration—the two parties will plan jointly and conduct appropriate studies on small-molecule, targeted oncology drugs. Wang also helped in the establishment of several collaboration partnerships with Eli Lilly and Co., Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, OSI Pharmaceuticals, Primary Peptides (Canada) and several academic organizations.
The initial term of the agreement is three years, which can be extended, he tells DDNews, adding: “We will only discover drug candidates that have great potential for China and globally. Yabao will have all China market rights, while UniSA retains rights outside of China.”
Head of the Centre for Drug Discovery and Development at the University of South Australia, Prof. Shudong Wang is looking forward to a productive collaboration with Yabao, which brings a strong commitment to the Centre’s drug discovery program, and she says, “The financial resources resulting from this agreement will help to rapidly advance our drug discovery towards clinical development, a goal we all share.”
“We are developing a new type of targeted cancer therapeutic,” Shudong Wang tells DDNews. “The drug target is an enzyme that is highly expressed in the majority of colorectal cancers. Inhibition of this kinase by our drug molecule compound suppresses proliferation in colon cancer cells and causes cancer cell death. Another very exciting perspective of this program is to be able to address the complex nature of cancer immunology. It raises the hope of enhancing clinical efficacy and outcome.”
The two parties note that colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most commonly diagnosed form of cancer. In 2010, approximately 1.6 million individuals were affected by CRC. Mortality rates are set to rise, despite the positive impact of screening on the early identification of the disease. The global cancer market in 2010 was valued at $53.9 billion, an increase of 5.1 percent over the previous year‘s sales of $51.3billion. The success of the program will have a significant social and economic impact.