FiercePharmaAsia—Roche-Innovent deal; Lilly-Junshi COVID pact; Fujifilm, WuXi Biologics expansions

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Roche and Innovent, Eli Lilly and Junshi, Fujifilm and WuXi Biologics made our news this week. (Google)

Roche has entered into a nonexclusive licensing deal granting China's Innovent Biologics rights to its bispecific antibodies and cell therapy technologies. Eli Lilly has added Junshi Biosciences' investigational COVID-19 antibody to its pipeline. In two CDMO expansions, Fujifilm is plotting a $928 million investment in its Denmark biologics facility, and WuXi Biologics has signed a lease for its third U.S. facility. And more.

1. Roche pens $2B biobucks pact with Innovent Biologics for bispecific and cell therapies

Roche is licensing out its know-how in bispecific antibodies and CAR-T cell therapies in a nonexclusive collaboration with Innovent Biologics. While Innovent is paying Roche for its technologies, Roche will pay $140 million plus additional milestone payments up to $1.96 billion for ex-China rights if all products are successfully developed and commercialized.

2. Lilly starts second COVID-19 antibody test with partner Junshi Biosciences, eyes combo trials

Eli Lilly already has a COVID-19 antibody from a partnership with AbCellera. Now, it’s kickstarting another clinical trial with a second asset with China’s Junshi Biosciences. Dosing of the drug, JS016, has started in China, and a U.S. phase 1 will start “in the coming days.” Lilly said it’s already considering combining these two antibodies in a cocktail approach.

3. Fujifilm plots $928M infusion at Danish biologics plant to double production capacity

Fujifilm will invest about $928 million to expand a biologics plant in Denmark it acquired from Biogen in August for $890 million. The Japanese company aims to double capacity of its cell culture bioreactors. It will also add a fill-finish production line and a packaging line in the coming years. The hope is that the investment will boost its bio-CDMO revenue to $928 million per year by March 2022.

4. WuXi Biologics inks lease agreement for 3rd U.S. facility in global expansion push

Soon after clinching a deal for its first U.S. facility in Worcester, Massachusetts, WuXi Biologics has quickly followed up with two other lease agreements in the U.S. It just signed a 10-year lease to occupy a 66,000-square-foot clinical manufacturing facility in Cranbury, New Jersey. In between, it has chosen to lease a 33,000-square-foot process development lab in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. 

5. Takeda, debt in mind, offloads 18 drugs in Asia Pacific to Celltrion for $278M

Takeda is offloading 18 over-the-counter and prescription drugs marketed in the Asia-Pacific region to South Korea’s Celltrion for $278 million. The portfolio generated sales of about $140 million in the fiscal year ended in March 2019 and falls outside of Takeda’s five focus areas. Once again, the divestment doesn’t include Takeda’s home country, Japan.

6. Chinese biotech Everest raises $310M in series C (release)

China’s Everest Medicines has closed a $310 million series C, led by Janchor Partners, RA Capital Management, Hillhouse Capital and state-owned Jiashan SDIC. Its founding investor CBC Group, formerly called C-Bridge Capital, as well as others, also pitched in. The biotech is focused on in-licensing drugs for the Asian market. It counts Immunomedics’ antibody-drug conjugate Trodelvy and Tetraphase’s (soon to be Melinta’s) antibiotic Xerava among its pipeline.

7. JW Therapeutics, a China CAR-T biotech by Juno and WuXi, nets $100M in series B (release)

Chinese CAR-T specialist JW Therapeutics has secured $100 million in series B, bringing its total raise to over $200 million since its formation by Juno Therapeutics and WuXi AppTec in 2016. The money will be used to advance its lead product—JWCAR029, a phase 2 anti-CD19 CAR-T drug—and to gear up for establishing a commercial team to support a potential launch.

8. Singapore opts for countrywide wearables for COVID-19 tracing: Reuters

Singapore is planning to give each of its 5.7 million residents a simple wearable device to track people who have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, Reuters reported. It follows a previous effort involving smartphones and an app called TraceTogether, which the state found to be less effective.