FiercePharmaAsia—CanSino's COVID-19 vaccine data; AZ-SK supply deal; Chinese hackers

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CanSino Biologics, AstraZeneca and SK Bioscience made our news this week. (Google)

CanSino Biolgocis' COVID-19 vaccine induced antibody and T-cell responses in a mid-phase trial, but there are some underlying concerns about the shot's immunogenecity strength. AstraZeneca introduced South Korea's SK Bioscience into the global supply network of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. U.S. authorities accused Chinese hackers of stealing high-tech knowledge, including research around COVID-19. And more.

1. CanSino’s COVID-19 vaccine shows T-cell, antibody responses in phase 2 (study)

CanSino Biologics published positive results in The Lancet, showing its adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine triggered neutralizing antibody and T-cell responses in a phase 2 trial. However, the geometric mean titers of neutralizing antibodies, at 19.5 and 18.3 for the two dosing strengths, were significantly lower than the binding antibody titers. Plus, antibody seroconversion rates were significantly lower in participants who had pre-existing high levels of antibodies against the vaccine’s Ad5 vector and among older individuals.

2. AstraZeneca taps South Korea’s SK Bioscience to help make its COVID-19 vaccine (Reuters)

AstraZeneca has inked a deal with South Korea’s SK Bioscience to help make the British pharma’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222. South Korea’s health ministry helped tie the knot between the two firms and it has begun discussions with AstraZeneca to introduce the vaccine to the country.

3. U.S. indictment says Chinese hackers tried to steal COVID-19 vaccine and drug research

The U.S. has indicted two Chinese nationals, Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi, for running a 10-year “hacking campaign” targeting high-tech industries in the U.S. Recently, the hackers shifted their focus to researchers in COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and diagnostics, according to authorities.

4. JW Therapeutics acquires cell therapy specialist Syracuse Biopharma (release)

JW Therapeutics, a Shanghai joint venture between Juno Therapeutics and WuXi AppTec, acquired Syracuse Biopharma, which owns China and South Asian rights to the Artemis antibody TCR and solid tumor technology by Eureka Therapeutics. The news comes as JW closed a $100 million series B and had a new drug application for its lead CAR-T candidate, JWCAR029, accepted by Chinese regulators.

5. Prosecutors raid GSK Korea’s vaccine division in rumored price-fixing probe (Korea Biomedical Review)

Korean prosecutors recently raided GlaxoSmithKline Korea’s vaccine division, an industry source told Korea Biomedical Review. While the reason was unclear, rumor has it the raid was related to an investigation into an alleged price-fixing of GSK vaccines by its local partners.

6. Glenmark’s copy of Fujifilm’s Avigan showed benefits in COVID-19 (release, PDF)

Glenmark said its copy of Fujifilm’s antiviral drug Avigan, plus standard of care, had “numerical improvements” by clearing the novel coronavirus 28.6% faster, as measured by oral viral shedding, compared with standard treatment alone in a 150-patient phase 3 trial. Those in the treatment arm also achieved “clinical cure” 40% faster than the control group.

7. Celgene partner Antengene raises $97M series C for oncology programs (release)

Chinese biotech Antengene has raised $97 million in series C led by Fidelity. The money will be used to fund clinical development and build its commercial infrastructure in Asia Pacific. The company’s oncology-focused pipeline includes Karyopharm-licensed XPO1 inhibitor Xpovio and mTOR inhibitor onatasertib, which it in-licensed from Celgene. Antengene was founded by Celgene veteran Jay Mei and recently welcomed ex-Celgene chief Mark Alles to its board.