BEIJING & DURHAM, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Brii Biosciences, a company committed to serving patients’ needs and improving public health in China, today announced several research collaborations that significantly advance its efforts to develop innovative medicines to meet the unique needs of patients in China. These collaborations include two clinical development programs focused on hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and China-based exclusive research agreements to develop novel immunotherapeutics to treat infectious diseases and other immune dysfunctions. In addition, the company has formally established its research and development headquarters in Beijing and has forged a public-private partnership to promote public health and develop translational research capabilities.
“The greater China region has very specific healthcare needs, and we are intentionally building Brii Bio to address those needs through a mutually beneficial partnership model that provides positive impact on patient health and growth opportunities for our partners,” said Zhi Hong, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Brii Bio. “Most significantly, the collaborations announced today catapult us to a leading position in the race to deliver a functional cure for chronic hepatitis B infection in China, where the disease is a significant public health issue and silent epidemic affecting more than 90 million citizens. Our research for novel immune therapies in China is specifically intended to address diseases prevalent in the region.”
Advancing a Functional Cure for Hepatitis B
Brii Bio has entered into agreements with VBI Vaccines and Vir Biotechnology focused on bringing a functional cure for HBV to patients in China.
- Brii Bio has licensed greater China rights for a novel recombinant protein-based immunotherapeutic (VBI-2601) from VBI Vaccines (NASDAQ: VBIV). VBI-2601 has the potential to induce and sustain broad and effective immune control of chronic HBV infection. Brii Bio plans to initiate clinical proof of concept studies in China in 2019. In addition to the license agreement, Brii Bio has made an equity investment in VBI Vaccines. Details of this transaction were announced by VBI Vaccines today.
- Brii Bio and Vir Biotechnology have agreed to commence clinical development efforts in China for VIR-2218, a novel, investigational RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutic designed to inhibit expression of all HBV proteins, including hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). Viral protein knockdown may help restore the patient’s own immune response to HBV, thereby offering people living with chronic HBV the potential for a functional cure. This is the first asset that Brii Bio will take into the clinic as part of its existing partnership with Vir in infectious disease, under which Brii Bio will develop and commercialize up to four assets from Vir’s pipeline. VIR-2218 was originated by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ALNY) as ALN-HBV02 and was licensed to Vir, which will conduct its clinical development.
Jeff Baxter, president and CEO of VBI, commented: “Partnering with Brii Bio provides a unique opportunity for us to develop a novel therapeutic with a company completely focused on the Chinese healthcare market and we believe this collaboration gives us a strategic advantage to leverage our technology against a significant global health need.”
Hepatitis B virus infection is the leading cause of liver disease and, with current treatments, it is very difficult to cure, with many patients going on to develop liver cancers. The burden of HBV in China is the highest in the world, with more than one-third of the world’s 257 million people with chronic HBV living in the country.
Novel Immunotherapeutics for Infectious Diseases
Brii Bio has entered into exclusive research collaborations with WuXi Biologics (2269.HK) and Tsinghua University Institute for Immunology, a world-class academic research institute in Beijing, to discover and develop bispecific antibodies to treat infectious diseases and other immunologic disorders. Brii Bio will retain global rights of all products arising from these collaborations.
- Brii Bio and WuXi Biologics, a leading global open-access biologics technology platform company, have entered into a discovery collaboration that will give Brii Bio access to WuXi Biologics’ end-to-end biopharmaceutical technology platforms and capabilities. This collaboration will enable discovery, development, and manufacture of biologic products in China.
- Brii Bio and Tsinghua University will collaborate on China-based innovation for novel immunotherapeutics building on Tsinghua’s world-class expertise in immunology. Tsinghua investigators will provide laboratory facilities, bespoke assays, and deep immunology expertise. Brii Bio will sponsor a joint post-doctoral fellowship with Tsinghua University and provide discovery insight for novel immune therapies.
“In China, there is a great need to improve the treatment of infectious diseases and a vast opportunity to transform care for patients through therapies that inhibit or modulate the host immune responses,” said Professor Chen Dong, Dean of the School of Medicine and Director of the Institute for Immunology at the Tsinghua University. “We are delighted to embark on a research program that leverages WuXi’s leading-edge capabilities and Brii Bio’s target insight so that we can bring forward innovative immune therapies that may reach millions of people in our country and beyond.”
Effective treatments for infectious diseases and immunologic disorders are a significant unmet need in China.
Beijing-based Global Research Hub
Brii Bio has forged a public-private partnership that will focus on the promotion of public health and development of translational research capabilities in Beijing. Brii Bio is building a state-of-the-art facility in the Haidian District that, once complete, will house the company’s research and development operations and up to 200 employees. Establishing a strong presence in Beijing provides Brii Bio with operational efficiencies, proximity to agencies and organizations located in the capital city, and access to the deep research talent base at top universities. As part of this collaboration, the Beijing Commission of Science & Technology and Haidian District will help to coordinate local resources, provide operational efficiency and policy benefits and Brii Bio will co-fund and advise translational research with Tsinghua University School of Medicine and discovery incubators with Tsinghua Industrial R&D Institute.
About Brii Biosciences
Brii Biosciences (Brii Bio) is a company committed to serving patients’ needs and improving public health in China. Founded in early 2018 with operations in the People’s Republic of China and the United States, the company focuses on accelerating innovation and optimizing access to the latest medicines for Chinese patients. Brii Bio helps global partners drive growth and improve return on investment through better understanding of Chinese healthcare systems and access to the world’s second largest pharmaceutical market. The company’s focus is treatments for chronic illnesses with significant burdens, including infectious diseases, liver and lung diseases, and other illnesses. For more information, visit www.briibio.com.