South Korea biotech Genexine has put together a second deal in Asia this month, licensing out 5 protein therapies with a subsidiary of China's Tasly Pharmaceutical worth a potential $125 million following a joint venture plan with Indonesia's Kalbe Farma.
Both Genexine and Tasly are busy on the development front, with the terms of their deal through Tasly unit Tasgen Bio-Tech seeing Genexine getting $20 million upfront and commercial and development milestones potentially kicking in another $80 million.
Tasgen gets China rights for three Genexine clinical candidates, human growth hormone GX-H9, GLP-1 receptor agonist GX-G6 for diabetes and neutropenia preparation GX-G3.
The two other Genexine candidates, part of a $25 million deal, cover preclinical candidates, PD-L1 receptor target GX-P2 and GLP-2 preparation GX-G8.
On top of the licensing deals, Genexine bought a 33% stake in Tasgen in partnership with an unspecified venture capital firm that also bought a 33% stake.
Also in October Genexine signed up with Indonesia's top drug company, Kalbe Farma, on a joint venture named KG Bio to manufacture and sell biologics in Indonesia and into Southeast Asia with plans for a November launch.
South Korean biotechs have eyed China as a key market for in-licensing products but also seek to expand into Southeast Asia, where demand for biologic and biosimilar drugs is expected to be strong and regulatory pathways more accessible.
In the case of KG Bio, the company will handle development and regulatory approvals of protein drugs using Genexine's hyFc technology with Kalbe working on manufacturing and sales. Genexine also has deals in place with Japan's Ajinomoto, U.S.-based NeoImmuneTech, South Korea's Binex and Turkey's iLKO.
On its own, Tasly has also been looking at wider opportunities in the region. In September, China's Ascletis said it had raised $35 million in a funding round led by C-Bridge Capital, with Tasly Pharma and Singapore-based Pavilion Capital also in the round to fund pipeline expansion, global regulatory filings and GMP-certified manufacturing.
Ascletis has won approval to begin a Phase II trial of danoprevir (ASC08) in Taiwan in combination with ASC16 (PPI-668) for an interferon-free HCV treatment that could also help put it in pole position in the Chinese market.