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UT Health, Chinese pharma firm in $114M license, research deal
June 24, 2017

Dr. William Henrich (center), president of UT Health San Antonio, CSPC CEO Weidong Pan (left) and Dr. Qingxi "Charles" Wang celebrate the official signing of the agreements. Photo by John Davenport / San Antonio Express-News

By Jesse Pound, Staff Writer, San Antonio Express-News

UT Health San Antonio announced Friday a landmark licensing deal worth up to $114 million with a Chinese pharmaceutical company to develop new treatments for spinal cord injuries and breast cancer.

AlaMab Therapeutics, a subsidiary of CSPC Pharmaceutical Group in China, will make an upfront payment of $4.5 million to UT Health San Antonio and UTHealth in Houston to license two antibodies found by local researcher Jean Jiang.

The first antibody inhibits neural inflammatory reactions after spinal cord injury, while the other helps treat breast cancer after it invades the bone. Jiang has partnered with Zhiqiang An of UTHealth in Houston to humanize the antibodies for more trials.

Dr. William Henrich, president of UT Health San Antonio, made the announcement Friday morning with CSPC CEO Wei-dong Pan at the Greehey Academic and Research Campus. The deal could give the University of Texas health system as much as $114 million over several years with the potential for additional royalty payments, Henrich said.

"This is a part of the portfolio in San Antonio that we want to grow," he said. "We want to grow our entrepreneurial public-private associations, and this is a tangible step in that direction."

The milestone payments are based on the success of trials in animals and humans, which could take up to 10 years, Hen-rich said.

"Today's news conference represents exactly what our health institutions within the University of Texas System are great at doing," said Rad Weaver, a member of the system's board of regents, adding that the UT System received 162 patents in 2016, including 10 at UT Health San Antonio. Weaver is also chairman of the board for the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

AlaMab is a newly created subsidiary of CSPC and will be based in San Antonio, Henrich said.

The creation of Ala-Mab was UT's idea, said John Gebhard, an assistant vice president in UT Health San Antonio's Office of Technology Commercialization. UT told CSPC early in the discussions it would like to work with a local company, and Gebhard said he expects AlaMab and UT to collaborate on other projects going forward.

"That makes it very easy for our investigators to stay at the university and be basically pure, not touched, but at the same time be involved in the company," Gebhard said.

Jiang has been working on this project for a decade and will continue the research going forward, Henrich said.

"She didn't take a day off for four or five years to work on the science of the project," Henrich said.

It is the largest upfront licensing agreement in UT Health San Antonio's history, Gebhard said. The deal came together more rapidly than any other deal he's ever done, which he attributed to its significance. Gebhard said AlaMab will seek regulatory approval in the United States and in foreign markets.

Speaking through a translator, Pan praised the UT System before a formal signing ceremony.

"I believe today is just a new beginning, and we will continue work on opportunities together, and we hope our relationship and friendship will be long-lasting and far-reaching," Pan said.

UT Health San Antonio, previously called the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, has seven campuses in San Antonio and Laredo, and an operating budget of $806.6 million.

 

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