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China's biotech industry: An Asian dragon is growing
Date:1/7/2008

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The Chinese government, however, remains intent on pushing applied research, driving Chinese firms to develop new therapies in pioneering fields such as gene therapy and stem cells.

The first commercialized gene therapy product approved anywhere in the world was Gendicine, an injection used in the treatment of head and neck cancers developed by Shenzhen SiBiono GeneTech Co., Ltd. More than 5,000 patients have been treated with Gendicine, about 400 of them from overseas. The drug is currently undergoing further clinical trials in China for several new indications, including liver, abdominal and pancreatic cancer.

Several Chinese companies are working in the field of human and animal stem cells. One of them, Beike Biotechnologies, has organized a network of satellite hospitals, clinicians and research laboratories to commercialize its stem cells therapies, which involve harvesting stem cells from the umbilical cord or amniotic membrane, in vitro expansion, and administration to patients either intravenously or by injecting directly into the spinal cord.

Beike has treated more than 1,000 patients, including 60 foreigners, for a variety of conditions including Alzheimers disease, autism, brain trauma, cerebral palsy, diabetic diabetic foot arteriosclerosis and spinal cord injury.

Because therapies using cells derived from the umbilical cord are considered a clinical technology in China, the State Food and Drug Administration does not require clinical trials before these treatments are approved. This absence of clinical data makes it difficult to evaluate the efficacy of these therapies.

New therapies developed for local and global health problems

The study found that the governments focus on innovation is also driving development of new therapies to address significant local health needs, including lung fibrosis, liver cirrhosis and various problems associated with an aging population caused in part by
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Contact: Terry Collins
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy,McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health
Source:Eurekalert

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