Even as China talks of encouraging creation of a major innovative-drug industry, two of its institutions have come through with a couple of breakthroughs, one for the world's first vaccine against hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), the other discovery of a new type of HIV treatment.
China FDA said it has cleared for production the first vaccine to treat the enterovirus 71, EV71, behind HFMD, state-run Xinhua news agency said, as well as a release from China FDA.
Its developer, the Institute of Medical Biology at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said its clinical trials showed the vaccine to be an effective preventative measure, with a 97.3% success rate.
The vaccine was considered a major one in China where HFMD has become the most widespread of any diseases, with children under 5 years of age the most vulnerable. China counted 2.8 million cases last year, 508 of them ending in death, according to reports.
In October, Chinese drugmaker Jinyu Group and project development company AFECC held talks with Namibia to build a plant to manufacture vaccines for HFMD, but it was unclear if the CFDA release is related.
The CFDA did not detail other efforts to manufacture EV71. China-focused Sinovac Biotech ($SVA) said in its third-quarter earnings release that it was looking forward to a successful GMP inspection for production of its EV71 vaccine.
"This is not Sinovac's vaccine," said William Zima of investor relations in an email to FiercePharmaAsia. "There are actually three companies developing this vaccine. Sinovac's remains under the approval process. Once the approvals are granted, the company will make announcement to the market. The company has marketing approval in China for the vaccine to prevent hand, foot and mouth disease."
Meanwhile, not far away at Nankai University in Tianjin, researchers said they have discovered a way to slow to a crawl the developing pace of the HIV virus, allowing for better treatment to prevent its expanding into AIDS, China.org reported.
The research team at the school reported that the importance of the coil domain-containing protein 8, a major fighter against HIV-1, was an indication it could be used to block the primary building material for the structure of the virus. That would allow physicians to control the growth of the disease in a patient.
China now counts more than half a million people with HIV/AIDS, reflecting what could be a "hidden epidemic" in the Asia Pacific region, according to recent reports.
Among treatments available now, GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) HIV therapy Tivicay (dolutegravir) is slated to be made in China by Shanghai-based Desano Pharmaceuticals under a deal with the British drugmaker's ViiV Healthcare arm announced in July.