• by Bruce Carlson
  • January 7 2019

$115 Billion in China Biotech Investments, New Apps and Devices, Biogen ALZ Deals Lead Early JPMHC / Biotech Showcase News

From China biotech growth to a new headache phone app, as the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference (#JPM2019) and related Biotech Showcase gets underway, there were some developments that occurred before the opening of the meeting.  Kalorama Information is a publisher of market research information in healthcare as part of the Science and Medicine Group.  Kalorama Information is the Publisher of The Worldwide Market for In Vitro Diagnostics, 11th Edition, the definitive report on the IVD market and other market research publications in biotechnology, medtech and medical devices.  

Alzheimer's Therapy Moves - The conference is important because it has become a central time and place for announcements biotechnology companies may have had in the works. This year proved no exception as Biogen announced a major deal in regards to Alzheimer's therapy, as noted in this endpts.com article: https://endpts.com/joining-forces-with-skyhawk-c4-therapeutics-biogen-buys-more-shots-on-goal-on-sma-alzheimers/  In two deals announced on Friday, Biogen said it is partnering with Skyhawk Therapeutics to explore small molecule RNA splicing modifiers for spinal muscular atrophy and signing on C4 Therapeutics to research the application of protein degradation tech in Alzheimer’s.

$115 Billion in China Biotech Investment Last Year - At the China Biotech Showcase that kicked off the week of healthcare investment and product launches, China Biotech Showcase noted the impressive growth in life science investment in China in 2018, an increase from 2018. ChinaBio®, a leading Shanghai consulting, financial and conference organizer, show China life science continues to grow:

· $43 billion raised for new VC/PE funds targeting China life science investments, with average fund size increasing to $765 million;
· $17 billion invested in China life science companies, up 36% from 2017, with another $8 billion in corporate investments;
· $34 billion in value created in M&A deals, 53% higher than 2017, with average deal value exceeding $200 million;
· $7 billion in IPO funding, an increase of 40%, with an average raise of over $250 million;
· $14 billion in partnering activity, up 75% from $8 billion in 2017.

Note: This material will be explored further at the China Showcase held in San Francisco on Sunday, January 6, 2019, in association with the Biotech Showcase from January 7-9, 2019.

Guardant Releases LUNAR Test for Researchers - Redwood City, CA - based liquid biopsy player Guardant Health announced that the LUNAR assay, a new blood-based assay intended to detect early-stage cancer and recurrence of disease, is now available from Guardant Health, Inc. for research use by biopharmaceutical and academic researchers. The assay, was developed under the company’s LUNAR program for early-stage detection and recurrence monitoring. It is based on biological insights from more than 80,000 cancer patients tested with Guardant360, the industry leading comprehensive liquid biopsy test, as well as learnings from whole-genome sequencing liquid biopsy data.  The LUNAR assay has been designed to overcome a variety of challenges that have confounded prior approaches for the detection of early-stage cancers, including inadequate tissue, biological noise, and the limited sensitivity of genomic-only tests. The company says that with a single blood draw, the assay is simultaneously able to detect both genomic alterations and epigenomic signatures with high clinical sensitivity and specificity. The company said the assay improves upon Guardant360’s market-leading performance by accurately reporting genomic alterations down to allele frequencies of 0.01%, and effectively filtering out biological noise sources, such as, mutations caused by clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential. Guardant says multiple top-tier academic research networks and biopharma companies will utilize the LUNAR assay in studies involving adjuvant therapy decision-making, recurrence monitoring, and screening for early-stage cancer.

China/US Relationship Troubles a Worry for Biotech? The previously mentioned report from ChinaBio also said that "The trade relationship between the US and China is dealing with considerable unknowns as President Trump seeks concessions from China and, especially, greater IP protection for high-tech US companies operating in, or operating with, China. The news dominates the headlines, and as a result, it comes up in year-end reviews. This emphasis in year-end reviews may be misleading. So far, no US-China cross-border biopharma deals have been rejected -- by either side. The report also notes that one Chinese investor has participated in 41 US biotech deals this year with a total value of $2.6 billion.

Smarthphone Headache App?   BioTrak Therapeutics has developed the first preventative therapeutic smartphone app for migraine and headache, Ease™. It provides the same clinically proven, behavioral interventions traditionally only available in an office setting. The company says the Ease app addresses both the physical and psychological factors of migraine disease and tension-type headaches. Its content is based on clinically validated approaches with the aim of allowing users to self-manage their headaches. The app provides physiological therapy including diaphragmatic breathing exercises to help patients build a healthier autonomic nervous system. Psychological support to manage stress, anxiety and depression is provided with audio-based relaxation and meditation exercises. A machine learning algorithm adjusts the user’s personalized support based on lifestyle and disease profile.  The company said that a 28-day clinical study has shown Ease™ to successfully reduce the symptoms of migraine and frequently recurring tension-type headaches, matching the literature results shown in over 100 clinical studies on 3,500 subjects in office settings. 

Pediatric Chemotherapy Adjunctive Relief Patch - It is recognized that when treated with chemotherapy, children (ages 5+) are more prone to nausea than adults. CINV presents in two phases: Acute (day 1) and Delayed (days 2-5). Proprietary transdermal delivery company ChemioCare USA Inc. announced that its Adult Ondansetron 5-day adhesive transdermal patch will initiate development and be adapted for use in Pediatric Chemotherapy Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV). The company said the pediatric transdermal patch leverages the breakthrough development by ChemioCare for their Ondansetron 5-day transdermal patch under development for adult CINV. These potential benefits include offering fast CINV protection when applied up to one hour prior to Chemotherapy as well as sustained protection for five days.