31 May 2023 | Opinion | By Bruce Liu, Partner, Life Sciences, Simon-Kucher, Greater China
COVID-19 was a wake-up call for the vaccine industry globally and in Asia, and a catalyst for vaccine R&D. Global majors like BioNTech, Moderna, MSD and Sanofi have unveiled plans to expand footprints in Asia, while local players are striving to catch up fast in developing novel vaccines, in addition focusing on other therapeutic areas like oncology and cell and gene therapy. With these developments Asia is emerging as a biosciences innovation hub.
When the global ADC leader SEAGEN announced a $2.6 billion deal to in-licence an ADC from RemeGen in 2021, many asked the same question: who is RemeGen?
RemeGen is a Chinese biopharma with a relatively short history and low profile, but has made remarkable strides establishing itself as an innovation leader in the Asian biosciences industry. Besides the billion-dollar disitamab targeting Her-2, RemeGen also has clinical stage assets targeting at mesothelin, c-MET and CLDN 18.2, all from its proprietary ADC platform; and besides ADC, its first-in-class fusion protein Telitacicept was launched in China for SLE, and is in multiple global trials for gMG and IgAN.
RemeGen is not alone in Asia spearheading world-class innovations. More recently, a number of cross-border deals emerged with more Asian stars in the spotlight.
Oncology as a key focus
Cancer continues to represent a huge disease burden to Asia, and some cancer types like gastric cancer, liver cancer and colorectal cancer feature disproportionately high prevalence, mortality, and high unmet needs in the region. Not surprisingly, many Asian companies have singled out oncology as their primary focus.
Cell and Gene therapies gain momentum
Cell and gene therapy (CGT) in Asia has seen remarkable progress in the last three years. In fact, the number of CGT trials in Asia accounts for over half of the global trials.
Catching up on novel vaccines
COVID-19 was a wake-up call for the vaccine industry globally and in Asia, and a catalyst for vaccine R&D. Global majors like BioNTech, Moderna, MSD and Sanofi have unveiled plans to expand footprints in Asia, while local players like CSPC and CanSino are striving to catch up fast in developing novel vaccines.
the world’s first inhaled COVID-19 vaccine in 2022. The latter not only stimulates humoral and cellular immunity, but also induces mucosal immunity to achieve triple protection.
Overall, the Asian bioscience industry has seen exciting developments and world-class innovations across multiple fronts, and more is to come with the strong drivers underpinning the momentum.
Bruce Liu, Partner, Life Sciences, Simon-Kucher, Greater China
(Inputs from Miranda Wang and Selene Peng, Consultants, Life Sciences Practice, Simon-Kucher Partners, Greater China)