Lonza 2024
Following intensified investments, new partnerships, out-licensing ADC assets, and major scientific advances from companies including Bristol Myers Squibb (a US $8.4 billion deal with SystImmune), AstraZeneca (the company signed a US $ 600 million dollar deal to obtain global from LaNova Medicines for pre-clinical ADC candidates), Roche, Lonza, MilliporeSigma, BioNTech (acquired 2 different ADC assets from DualityBio for an upfront payment of US $170 million. The company also obtained a novel ADC HER3 assets from MediLink Therapeutics), Myricx Bio (licensed rights to an antibody discovered by WuXi Biologics),  while GlaxoSmithKline (acquired ex-China rights for B7-H4 ADC from Hansoh Pharma in a $1.57 billion deal, plus royalties on sales), and others, China is expected to drive the next research boom in novel, innovative medicines, like antibody-drug conjugates (ADC).
Significant breakthrough
ADC are representing a significant breakthrough in targeted cancer therapy. By blending the specificity of monoclonal antibodies with the potency of cytotoxic drugs, these innovative agents offer a targeted approach to cancer treatment, minimizing the damage to healthy cells.
China has become a major force in the advancement of this innovative field. And, as a result, global pharmaceutical giants are paying attention to Chinese pharmaceutical firms in this context, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
According to GlobalData’s Pharmaceutical Intelligence Center, between 2019 and 2023, 487 oncology-related strategic alliances were established with Chinese companies. Interestingly, ADC therapies were involved in 11.7% (57) of these cases. The percentage of deals involving ADCs has grown from 4.1% in 2019 to 23.7% in 2023. This shows a significant interest in the development of ADCs in China.

“The landscape of cancer therapy has been revolutionized with the introduction of targeted treatments, notably monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and antibody-drug conjugates,” said Jithendra Kancharla, a Pharma Analyst at GlobalData.

“ADCs represent a paradigm shift in cancer therapy, offering a more precise and effective treatment approach. Notably, China has become a major player in the development of ADCs in recent years.” Kancharla added.

Today, 11 unique ADCs are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and available in the US, whereas China has seven ADCs, two of which are developed and marketed domestically to treat various cancers. Overall, there are 71 unique ADCs from both domestic and international businesses in varying stages (pre-registration, Phases 1, 2, and 3) of clinical development in China.

Amid the increased focus on ADC research and development in China, big pharma companies are partnering with multiple Chinese players. A few notable partnerships aimed at developing and commercializing various ADCs include: BioNTech with Duality Biologics in April 2023, Johnson & Johnson joining forces with Hangzhou DAC Biotechnology in June 2022, Exelixis partnering with Adagene Suzhou in February 2021, and Seagen (now part of Pfizer) teaming up with Remgen in August 2021.

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Reshaping the landscape
“China’s advancing ADC sector, marked by innovative developments and strategic global partnerships, is reshaping the landscape of targeted cancer therapies. As Chinese biotech firms continue to collaborate with global pharmaceutical giants, the prospects for advanced, effective, and accessible cancer treatments are significantly enhanced. The journey of ADC development in China reflects the country’s potential to emerge as a key player in the field of precision medicine,” concluded Kancharla.

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