3SBio to Collaborate with Refuge Biotechnologies on the Research and Development of Intelligent Cell Therapies in Oncology and Other Diseases
April 30th, 3SBio Inc. (01530.HK, the ”Group”or“3SBio”), a leading Chinese biopharmaceutical company, is pleased to announce today a research collaboration with Menlo Park, California-based Refuge Biotechnologies, Inc. (“Refuge”),a company leveraging gene engineering technologies to develop intelligent cell therapeutics programmed to make decisions inside of patients. The two companies will jointly design and carry out research programs focusing on developing Programmed Therapeutic Cells that can produce therapeutic biologics agents in a disease micro environment inside patient’s body, using Refuge’s platform technology. 3SBio will have exclusive license to develop and commercialize the Programmed Therapeutic Cells in Greater China under the research collaboration agreement.
Concurrently, 3SBio and co-lead investors Sequoia Capital China, as well as existing Series A investors, have recently completed a $25 million Series B investment round into Refuge. Zhenping Zhu, MD, PhD, President of Research and Development, Chief Scientific Officer, of 3SBio, and Trency Gu, PhD, Managing Director of Sequoia Capital China, have joined the Refuge board of directors.
The funds will support advancement of cell therapies based on Refuge’s receptor-dCas platform,which utilizes a mutated or dead Cas9 (dCas) as a targeting mechanism to enable precision CRISPR activation (CRISPRa) and CRISPR interference (CRISPRi). The cell therapies are programed to only activate CRISPRa/CRISPRi when they encounter specific sensors found on the surface of target cells. Such cell therapies have the potential to bring together multiple therapeutic approaches in a single cell, such as repression or activation of checkpoint targets and cytokine genes, with greater potency and reduced side effects. Refuge’s lead candidate is RB-1916, an anti-CD19 based CAR-T cell therapy further designed to inhibit the expression of the PD-1 gene, with a potential initial application in diffused large B-cell lymphoma. Refuge has additional CAR cell therapy programs under research that conditionally repress PD-1 and other checkpoint inhibitors for potential treatment of solid tumors.
“The collaboration research and 3SBio’s investment demonstrates our commitment to advancing cutting-edge gene engineering technologies with potential for breakthrough treatments for cancer and other diseases with unmet medical needs” said Jing Lou, MD, PhD, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of 3SBio Inc. “3SBio looks forward to collaborating with Refuge to accelerate the clinical development of Refuge’s next-generation cell therapies for cancer and to fully realize the potential of the dCas9 platform.”
“We have seen tremendous progress in the development of our platform technology, and believe that our receptor-dCas platform has the potential to create highly targeted cell therapies that bring superior efficacy while overcoming limitations related to toxic side effects,” said Bing C. Wang,PhD, co-founder and chief executive officer of Refuge. “This financing will propel our efforts with our growing pipeline as we continue to design these innovative and intelligent cell therapies to fight cancer, and we are encouraged by the support from this top group of global investors.”
3SBio is a fully-integrated biotechnology company in China with market-leading franchises in oncology, auto-immune diseases, nephrology, metabolic diseases and dermatology. 3SBio is focused on building an innovative product pipeline, with 16 National Class 1 candidates under development. 3SBio’s manufacturing capabilities include recombinant proteins, monoclonal antibodies and chemically-synthesized molecules, with research and production centers in Shenyang, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Como, Italy. 3SBio is actively pursuing international expansion through acquisitions, licensing and strategic partnerships. Please visit www.3sbio.com for additional information.
Refuge is a discovery-stage therapeutic company focused on gene editing and genetic engineering of immune cells for cancer immunotherapy. Refuge is leveraging gene engineering technologies known as CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) and CRISPR activation (CRISPRa) through their receptor-dCas platform to develop therapeutic cells that are programmed to make cancer-fighting decisions inside the patient’s body. For further information, please visit www.refugebiotech.com.
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