Xiaodong Wang: Do the world's best anti-cancer drug
【LWBS 2015 05 28 A】(SpringRain Translated from People Web-Sci & Tech Channel）
Either don't do or do the best - this has been the motto of Xiaodong Wang, the director of the Beijing Institute of Biological Sciences. In April 2004, with outstanding achievements in the field of apoptosis, 41-year-old Xiaodong Wang elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, became the first person to receive this honor among more than 20 million people who came to America after the reform and opening up of China.
Northwest of Beijing, in a secluded life science research park, lies the Beijing Institute of Biological Sciences (NIBS), the four-story red small building is known as China's most efficient institute.
The director Xiaodong Wang is not tall but a muscular man, and a “double” academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Sciences, he used his unique management style and knowledge vision, leads the group of the most distinguished researchers here to explore new knowledge of human life.
"Lead only, do not follow", it is the principle of the Beijing Institute of Life Sciences to choose scientific research projects. Xiaodong Wang said, "The research topics must be at the forefront of the world; haven’t been done by others. What we are pursuing is not only to fill the gaps between China and other counties, but also get innovation in human knowledge."
"As a Chinese scientist, wherever you go, how successful you are, and your motherland will not be changed." In 2003, he was invited to come back to China to create the experimental field for Science and Technology reform - NIBS. Five years later, the International Science Steering Committee composed of 10 of the world's top scientists conducted a field assessment, and the conclusion is: There is no other institutions can occupy such an important seat of the field in the international scientific world in such a short time.
In early 2011, Xiaodong Wang made a bold decision: to found BeiGene (Beijing) Biological Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "BeiGene"), to research and develop the world's leading anti-cancer drugs. Just a few years, three new drugs of targeting type small molecules have been tested in a Phase I clinical trial in Australia, and showed the efficacy and fewer side effects than other similar drugs; One new drug of anti-tumor immunity has completed pre-clinical development and will be tested in Clinical trials in Australia soon.
"Research and develop cancer drug is my bounden duty."
Xiaodong Wang engaged in the study of cell apoptosis to reveal the mechanisms of cell growth and death, which provides an important theoretical basis for the treatment of cancer and other incurable diseases. Since 1996, independently leaded laboratory, he has published more than 50 papers in international journals, cited by peers 50,000 times, and achieved a number of major breakthroughs.
But Wang Xiaodong has not satisfied. Instead, he often feels uneasy.
"Because of my research related to cancer, I was often asked after came back to China: Do you have a better treatment?" Xiaodong Wang said, "Especially in recent years, more and more friends and family members are getting cancer, but, basically, no cure for most cancers when they are at an advanced stage, and what patients can do is waiting to die." After a brief pause he said," I was deeply stimulated by these things. The theories and concepts can’t cure the disease, and anti-cancer drug development is my bounden duty. "
The rapid momentum of global anti-cancer drug development in recent years excited Xiaodong Wang but it is also what he worried about. "After research accumulation during the past few decades, foreign anti-tumor drug development has made rapid progress in the field of targeted anticancer drugs and immunosuppressive drugs, and there have been new drugs to market. Compared with conventional chemotherapy, these two types of drugs like ' sophisticated bomb ' with obvious and sustainable efficacy, and the side effects are minor, many patients get a new life. "Xiaodong Wang said, because of new drug R & D capability is weak in China, some patients are forced to buy expensive foreign drugs through smuggling, the costs for a drug in a course are up to several hundred thousand yuan. "If the situation continues like this, we are unable to explain to the patients, and China's pharmaceutical industry will be more controlled by others."
Acting is better than thinking. In early 2011, he and the American entrepreneur John Oyler who has more than ten years of management experience in pharmaceutical companies financed $32 million, and jointly founded BeiGene.
"If the new drugs that we discovered are not better than foreign ones, we will absolutely abandon"
From inception of the company, Xiaodong Wang and John Oyler reached a common agreement: To do the best anti-cancer drugs in the world.
How can we do the world's best? Xiaodong Wang’s answer is: hold high and hit high, do not take the usual way -
Invest 100 million yuan to globally purchase the best equipment and build the world-class chemical and biological pharmaceutical laboratories;
Spared no expense to hire more than 20 management, research and development leaders from Merck, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and other multinational companies, and set up a high-level and multi-disciplinary research and development team of more than 150 people;
Instead of attacking one medicine, aiming at the international forefront of targeted small molecule chemical drugs and antitumor immunity biological macromolecules, embarked on these two kind of new drugs with the layout of more than 10 drugs for research and development…
What Xiaodong Wang is most proud of is the super drug-testing capabilities of BeiGene. "We have assembled a team of more than 50 people to do tests - even the most well-known multinational pharmaceutical companies, there is no such a large proportion of people to do a drug test." Xiaodong Wang told reporters, "so that we can carry out testing at each stage of drug development, it will be topped if the results are not good, thus we can maximize the savings of resources and minimize the walking on the detours. At the same time, after the latest foreign drug patents issued, we will soon analyze and compare their drugs with ours that are being developed, if we find our new drugs on research and development are not better than foreign ones, we absolutely give up, redesign new drugs. "
"Survival of advanced lung cancer is generally not more than three months, a patient took our medicine in Australia has been a year and two months."
Because of a strong scientific background, research and development capabilities and scientific research and development strategy, BeiGene's drug development soon "bears fruit." They developed two targeting type drugs BGB-283, BGB-290, causing the veteran German pharmaceutical company Merck great interest. In November 2013, after a rigorous inspection, testing, evaluation, Merck's biopharmaceutical companies Merck Serono signed an agreement with BeiGene, and invested $500 million to buy the development rights overseas markets of these drugs, which is a milestone in the history of drug development in China.
Moreover, what makes Xiaodong Wang happier is that these two drugs and another targeting type drug BGB-311 have been completed a clinical trial in Australia. The clinical results showed that the efficacy of three drugs for a variety of cancers, including melanoma, ovarian cancer and lymphoma, is significant, side effects are minor, and they are much better than other similar drugs.
"The 84 cancer patients that participated in the clinical trials are at advanced stage and dying, after taking our drugs, the diseases are either under control or significantly improved." Xiaodong Wang told reporters, "survival of advanced lung cancer is generally not more than three month, one patient in Australia took our medicine has been a year and two months, and now alive and live well."
In addition, immune antineoplastic BGB-317 has completed a preclinical research and development, its potential is better than two similar new drugs in the United States. "The clinical trial of BGB-317 will be carried out in early June in five clinical hospitals of Australia, and soon in the United States." Xiaodong Wang said.
"The only thing that I feel uncomfortable is that we can’t quickly let domestic patients use the new drugs that we researched and developed"
May 13, BeiGene had completed the second round of financing, three biotech investment funds from Wall Street and domestic Hillhouse and the CITIC Industrial Fund invested $97 million. Plus the first round of financing in 2014, BeiGene has received $ 200 million investment in the domestic capital market - for a company without new drugs on the market yet, such high amount of financing in China still can’t find a second one.
"Of course, we also have a sad time." Xiaodong Wang said with a smile, drug development is not only burning money but also high risky, such as design, production, process development ...... any one step gets trouble, the project might come to naught. "The four or five projects at our early development have failed. There is only 10,000 yuan in the account during the company's most difficult time, thanks to John Oyler for borrowing money all over the world to get through the storm."
"The difficulty for me is not a problem." Xiaodong Wang said, "The only thing I feel uncomfortable is that the new drugs that we researched and developed can’t let domestic patients quickly use."
It turned out that the application of clinical trials for BGB-283 and other three drugs in China and Australia simultaneously submitted. As a result, they were approved in five working days in Australia, but are always “queue” for the domestic approval. According to reports, China's drug approval process is unusually slow for clinical trials, these three new drugs in the country has not yet been allowed to carry out clinical trials. The fastest processed BGB-283, it took more than a year just for “queue” in the Center of Drug Evaluation of Chinese Food and Drug Administration, until February of this year it entered the review, the earliest date to conduct a Phase I clinical trial will be in the second half of this year. The other two drugs are still "queue", I do not know until when to enter the review.
“A mother of my friend has a late stage thyroid cancer, when he learned the clinical outcome of BGB-283 in Australia, sincerely hope to use our drugs, and has repeatedly said that 'voluntary to take the drug and responsible for the consequences,' but I really can’t give - the drug's clinical trials in the country haven’t been done, it will be illegal if I gave him, " Xiaodong Wang said very helplessly," knowing that we have developed a new drug that can cure his mother's illness, but just can’t legally give her for usage, you say, am I uncomfortable or not? "
It makes him feel a little better to learn that this problem has caught attention of the Drug Check sector. Recently, the leaders from Chinese Food and Drug Administration came to the Zhongguancun to investigate this issue, after listening to Xiaodong Wang’s response, immediately pledged for serious study.
"After these three new drugs are approved in the domestic market, we are willing to sell them at a price that the public can afford." Xiaodong Wang said, "On one hand, the costs of our research and development can compensated by the overseas market, and this is why we founded the company, research and development of new drugs in mind - - allow domestic cancer patients can use the world’s best new drugs that are made in China."