FiercePharmaAsia—CanSino's mRNA coronavirus vaccine; WuXi's buildup; Fujifilm's Avigan failure?

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CanSino, WuXi Biologics and Fujifilm made our news this week. (Google)

CanSino added an mRNA project designed by Precision NanoSystems to its COVID-19 vaccine pipeline. WuXi Biologics finalized a deal to build its first U.S. facility in Worcester, Massachusetts, as WuXi Advanced Therapies launched a new CAR-T cell therapy platform. Fujifilm's flu drug Avigan reportedly failed in mild and asymptomatic coronavirus patients, but its lead researcher said it's too early to make that call. And more.

1. CanSino adds mRNA to COVID-19 vaccine efforts with Precision NanoSystems deal

CanSino is already leading the world’s anti-COVID-19 vaccine development efforts with a recombinant shot. Now, through a licensing deal with Precision NanoSystems, the Chinese biotech is jumping on the mRNA bandwagon. Vancouver-based Precision designs the vaccine, and CanSino takes charge of R&D. CanSino has the rights to sell the vaccine in Asia except for Japan.

2. WuXi Biologics clinches deal to build first U.S. facility at Boston area hub

WuXi upgrades CAR-T offerings with new manufacturing platform

The WuXi family made two new expansions this week. Two years after announcing its plan to build its first U.S. facility in Massachusetts, the company finally secured a deal with the Worcester Business Development Corporation for a 46-acre master-planned manufacturing hub. The facility itself will cost $60 million and is expected to be fully operational in 2022.

Meanwhile, WuXi Apptec’s CDMO WuXi Advanced Therapies is launching a “fully integrated closed process CAR-T cell therapy platform.” It offers raw materials, regulatory and technical know-how, process development, testing, quality control, and access to manufacturing facilities.

3. Did Fujifilm’s Avigan fail in COVID-19? Clinical trial will continue to find out (Bloomberg)

Interim results reported to the Japanese health ministry showed Fujifilm’s flu drug Avigan didn’t provide clear effectiveness in reducing coronavirus growth in people with mild and asymptomatic COVID-19, Kyodo reported, citing people familiar with the matter. But Yohei Doi, a doctor who’s leading the trial, told Bloomberg it’s still too early to make the call. The study will continue and report final results around July, he said.

4. Piramal CDMO closes in on private equity deal to raise up to $500M: report

India-headquartered CDMO Piramal Enterprises was reportedly close to selling 20% of its pharma services business to private equity shop TA Associates for as much as $500 million. Piramal is aiming to seal the deal by June, sources told Bloomberg.

5. Biogen, Samsung’s biosimilar to Roche’s Lucentis clears late-stage AMD trial (release)

Samsung Bioepis said its SB11, a biosimilar to Roche and Novartis’ Lucentis, improved the vision of patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration as well as the originator did in a phase 3 trial. Biogen has exclusive rights to the drug—as well as a copycat to Regeneron and Bayer’s rival AMD therapy Eylea—through an expanded deal signed in November.