Sanofi is investing $80 million in biopharma JHL Biotech as part of a strategic collaboration to develop biologics for the Chinese and potentially other international markets, as reported by Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. Under terms of the agreement Sanofi will also pay the Taiwan-based startup $21 million up front for exclusive rights to a proposed Rituximab biosimilar, along with options to other specified JHL pipeline products.
JHL will take the lead in product development, registration, and manufacturing, while Sanofi will shoulder commercialization efforts in the Chinese market. JHL could receive milestones of up to $236 million, plus royalties.
Sanofi said the partnership is in line with its commitment to invest in the development of high-quality biologic therapeutics for the Chinese market. “JHL has quickly developed leading capabilities in the development of biologics and I am confident that our alliance will positively impact lives of patients in areas of high unmet medical needs in China,” commented JeanLuc Lowinski, president of Sanofi China and svp of Sanofi Asia.
JHL Biopharma carries out preclinical and early-stage development of biosimilars at its JHL Center of Excellence in Taiwan, and earlier in 2016 opened its commercial-scale manufacturing facility for biosimilars and monoclonal antibodies, in Wahun, China. The Wahun site represents the world’s first KUBio™ modular biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility with single-use bioprocessing technology. Last month JHL inked a manufacturing services agreement with Singapore-based Aslan Pharmaceuticals, under which it will work with Aslan on process development and manufacturing of the latter’s IL-4/IL-13-blocking fully human mAb, ASLAN004, for clinical trials.