The opening day agenda focused on novel medicines. We explored how science, technology, and entrepreneurship is driving a new age of geographically dispersed innovators, operating internationally to “bridge productivity” and expedite the development of better medicine.
Dr. Ge Li, Chairman, WuXi AppTec Group
“We extend our warmest welcome to all our distinguished guests,” said Dr. Ge Li, Chairman of WuXi AppTec Group, “This is a forum that belongs to everyone in the global healthcare ecosystem. It is a platform of knowledge, wisdom, and learning to provide the key points to success, and just as crucially, the lessons we can learn from failures of the past. It is my hope that more people will participate in contributing to the prosperity of the healthcare ecosystem, and we can take a step closer to realizing the shared dream of WuXi, and the whole industry that ‘every drug can be made, and every disease can be treated’.”
From left to right: Mr. Kevin Holland, Minister-Counsellor and Director of Life Sciences, Healthcare and Social Care for China, British Embassy Beijing; Mr. Ruilin Song, Executive President, China Pharmaceutical Innovation and Research Development Association; Mr. Steve Bates, CEO, UK BioIndustry Association; Mr. Edward Hu, Co-CEO, WuXi AppTec; Mr. Leon Wang, Executive Vice President, International and China President of AstraZeneca
The first session of the forum focuses on the factors driving innovation in healthcare. The panelists all agreed that government support and reform of the regulatory policies have greatly facilitated innovation. Last year, 9 type 1 new drugs were approved in China, accounting for 25% of the total new drugs approved in the last decade. In addition, roxadustat was first approved in China, ahead of any other regions in the world. It was an important milestone. In the future, Chinese patients will have more access to new drugs from the world, and innovative therapies developed in China will also benefit patients around the world.
From left to right: Dr. Steve Yang, EVP, CBO, WuXi AppTec; Dr. Yongjun Liu, Global Head of Research, Sanofi; Dr. Lianshan Zhang, President, Global R&D, Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co; Dr. Leon Chen, CEO & Founding Partner, 6 Dimensions Capital; Dr. George Chen, Sr. VP, Global R&D Oncology Unit, Head, R&D China, AstraZeneca; Dr. Damian O’Connell, CEO, Experimental Drug Development Centre, A*STAR
In an era of innovation, we are going to challenge the 90% failure rate for new drug discovery. The panelists discussed the main drivers for global drug discovery. They also introduced the most innovative products and research in their pipelines. Venture capital professionals also shared their perspectives on how to evaluate the potential of new startups. In the end, all R&D leaders agreed that a molecule needs to be developed into a drug to benefit global patients, whether it’s “first-in-class” or not, it needs to be developed into a drug to benefit global patients.
The next two presenters are world-renowned scientists. Sometimes, one person, one idea and one endeavor can change history. Dr. David Ho is a pioneer in the HIV field. The “cocktail” treatment developed by his team changed HIV from a fatal disease to a manageable chronic disease. In his presentation, he shared his experience in collaborating with WuXi on basic scientific research, translational research, and drug discovery. His experience indicates that from basic research to drug discovery, the collaboration between academia and industry is a win-win strategy for both parties.
Dr. Zhijian “James” Chen is the recipient of the 2019 Life Science Breakthrough Prize. In his presentation, he gave a vivid illustration of the historical evolution of the concept of inflammation. He also introduced his award-winning research, which identified the sensor for cytosolic DNA that drives inflammatory responses. Dr. Chen also shared his thoughts on the future of human health and how we can improve human health by tackling non-infectious diseases.
From left to right: Ms. Nisa Leung, Managing Partner, Qiming Venture Partners; Dr. Bai Lu, Professor, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tsinghua University; Dr. Jane Osbourn, Vice President R&D, MedImmune, Chair UK BioIndustry Association; Mr. John Oyler, Chairman, Co-Founder & CEO, BeiGene; Mr. Michael Yi, Partner, Hillhouse Capital
In the next session, panelists from academia, industry, biotech company, venture capital firm, and trade organization shared their opinion on where the next disruptive innovation would come from. They gave their own definition of “disruption” and discussed potential technologies that could bring the next disruption in healthcare. The panelist agreed that the biopharmaceutical industry has a very long development cycle and very high cost for trial and error. We need to use all resources available to improve drug discovery efficiency and take it to the next level.
From left to right: Dr. Chiang Syin, Chief Quality Officer, WuXi Biologics; Dr. Ruyi He, Chief Scientific Officer, SDIC Fund Management; Dr. Michael Yi Yao, Co-Chairman, Gem Flower Pharma Tech; Dr. Gang Wang, Vice President for Quality and Global Regulatory Affairs, WuXi Biologics
In the first session of the afternoon, four “all-stars” from Chinese and the US regulatory agency discussed the similarity and difference between new drug approval in the US and China. The conversation focused on the global integration of Chinese regulatory standards. The panelists agreed that after joining the ICH, the Chinese pharmaceutical industry is adapting to the global standards. In addition, when designing clinical trials, if one takes human race into consideration and register Chinese patients from the start, the trials can produce data from the Chinese subgroup at the same time. That simplifies the regulatory process and benefits patients.
From left to right: Dr. James Xue, Chairman and CEO, CANbridge; Dr. Craig Anderson, Professor, University of New South Wales in Sydney; Executive Director, The George Institute for Global Health China; Dr. Zhengqing Li, CMO, President of R&D Greater China, Ascletis Pharma; Mr. Matt Cooper, Exec Director – Business Development & Marketing, National Institute for Health Research, UK; Dr. Carl Firth, CEO, ASLAN Pharmaceuticals; Dr. Jinzi J. Wu, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Ascletis Pharma; James Xue, Chairman and CEO, CANbridge
How can we find the key to successful clinical development for different regions and countries? Experts from around the world shared their first-hand experiences from China, UK, Australia, and Singapore. The panelists noted that different countries and regions have different unmet medical needs. For example, China sees high incidence of hepatitis B and hepatitis C. To treat these diseases, we will need to try emerging technologies, and encourage innovations to achieve breakthroughs. As to global diseases such as NASH, we need to combine collective wisdom from around the world, to advance clinical development and overcome the disease together.
From left to right: Mr. Guy Spigelman, VP Portfolio Success, aMoon Fund; Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov, Founder and CEO, Insilico Medicine; Dr. Eric Morgen, COO and CMO, BIOAGE; Dr. Karen Reeves, President and CMO, AZTherapies; Dr. Sang Hoon Lee, Founder and CEO, ABL Bio; Dr. Zhenyu Ju, Dean, Institute of Aging and Regenerative Medicine, Jinan University
The last three sessions of the day shared a common theme – “the new wave”. During the three discussions, the panelists focused on aging, cancer, and technologies, and explored the hottest topics in the industry.
In the “anti-aging” discussion, the panelists agreed that aging is something that everyone needs to face. And diseases associated with aging create huge burdens to society. They also introduced different approaches to tackle age-related diseases. Although aging is a daunting challenge, they were optimistic that investigational therapies in the clinical trials will succeed in the future. They also offered their answers to the question “Which breakthrough in the anti-aging field will be published on the cover of Time?”
From left to right: Dr. Darren Ji, Co-founder and CEO, Elpiscience; Venture Partner, Lilly Asia Ventures; Dr. Ash Bahl, CSO and Head of R&D, Carrick Therapeutics; Dr. Zhengying Pan, Research Fellow, School of Chemical Biology & Biotechnology, Peking University; Dr. Simone Botti, CEO, MetaboMed; Dr. Sofie Qiao, President and CEO, Vivace Therapeutics
In the “anti-cancer” discussion, we heard the innovative anti-cancer strategies offered by entrepreneurs from around the world, from small molecules targeting novel targets, to bispecific antibodies, to novel metabolic therapy. The panelists discussed the potential major breakthroughs in the next 50 years and shared their opinions on how different types of cancer treatments can benefit patients. They mentioned that all the current breakthroughs are not the end, but the beginning. We hope to see the birth of more blockbuster therapies in the future.
From left to right: Mr. Naheed Kurji, President and CEO, Cyclica; Dr. Yanni Lin, Chief Technology Officer, CureGenetics; Dr. Jörg Weiser, Managing Director, Schrodinger; Dr. Misti Ushio, CEO, TARA Biosystem; Dr. Qi Liu, Professor, Bioinformatics Department in Tongji University; Dr. Ray Tabibiazar, Senior Vice President, Twist Bioscience
In the last session of the day, the panelists turned their attention to emerging technologies such as CRISPR gene editing, computational chemistry, and artificial intelligence. They explored how these technologies can improve R&D efficiency. At the same time, they acknowledged that these new technologies still face multiple challenges in areas such as data specificity, regulatory policies, public awareness.