The companies will work together in developing the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, HBI-8000, which completed Phase I trials in China in 2008, demonstrating activity against T-lymphoma and other tumour types as well as a superior toxicity profile to other HDAC inhibitors currently being developed or marketed.
In 2007, HUYA exclusively licensed worldwide rights – with the exception of China - to HBI-8000, from the Chinese company, Chipscreen Biotech, and after such promising clinical trial results in recent years, Chipscreen is furthering its studies by conducting Phase II studies on the cancer target in China.
Furthermore, HBI-8000 has now entered a Phase I clinical trial in the US under an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Describing the initiation of the drug’s US Phase I trial as a “significant achievement for HUYA,” Mirelle Gingras, CEO of HUYA, explained how HB-8000 holds several advantages over existing HDAC inhibitors, which can lack potency, selectivity, and offer poor pharmacokinetic or toxicity profiles.
Having been found to kill cancer cells by acting as either single agents or combined with other anticancer agents, Gingras believes HBI-8000 “represents both an important development milestone for this promising cancer drug and illustrates the benefits of Chinese and Western biopharmaceutical companies working together to efficiently carry out drug development.”
China is the ‘engine room’ for pharma, say Quintiles
With a noticeable influx of companies setting up and partnering in Asia, Dennis Gillings, founder and CEO of Quintiles, has described China as the “engine room” for the pharmaceutical industry.
It is perhaps this reason why the world’s largest pharmaceutical services company has come close to tripling its workforce in Asia over the past decade, and has now agreed to co-develop the cancer treating drug with HUYA.
“This agreement will help accelerate the development of medicines from China,” said Tom Perkins, senior vice president of the Capital Group at Quintiles. “It illustrates our strategy to maximise the potential of global biopharmaceutical development and innovation for the benefit of patients,” he added.
With this in mind, Quintiles is now considering filing for another initial public offering (IPO) to raise money for expansion in Asia. “Becoming public again would make it easier for Quintiles to make larger acquisitions, especially in Asia,” commented Gillings.
“Drug development is a little more cost-effective in Asia and that’s partly because of labour costs and also there really are a lot of patients in Asia,” he said.