Amgen plans to open an R&D center at ShanghaiTech University as part of a new strategic partnership to advance biopharmaceutical discovery and translational research in China, the biotech giant and school said today.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed by both, Amgen will co-locate its China R&D center with ShanghaiTech University’s two life science institutes: the Shanghai Institute for Advanced Immunochemical Studies (SIAIS) and the iHuman Institute.

Founded last year, SIAIS “aims to become a first-class, leading antibody research institute in the world,” according to its home page on ShanghaiTech’s website, by “building a state-of-the-art research organization dedicated to the understanding of the basic structure and design of biological molecules.” The SIAIS says it has It has seven key laboratories in the fields of antibody design, structural biochemistry, antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) chemistry, antibody therapeutics, antibody structure, antibody assay development, and antibody engineering.

The iHuman Institute, envisioned as “a gateway to the world of Shanghai life science research,” is focused exclusively on the basic and applied science of human cell signaling, integrating multiple tools for scientific discovery and bringing together leading researchers. The institute has research groups in chemical and cell biology, chemistry, antibody development, computational chemistry, Imaging, structural biology, systems biology, and translational biology.

Amgen said it expects its China R&D center will be fully operational in 2014.
“Expansion into China is a business priority for Amgen, and opening this R&D center is another clear and important step forward in Amgen’s commitment to the China market,” Sean E. Harper, M.D., evp of research and development at Amgen, said in a statement.

ShanghaiTech is jointly sponsored and organized by the Shanghai municipal government, which is responsible for its operation, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Amgen’s partnership with ShanghaiTech is the company’s fifth initiative announced this year toward shoring up its presence in China and the rest of Asia. In May, Amgen and Zhejiang Beta Pharma said they would commercialize Amgen’s metastatic colorectal cancer drug (mCRC) Vectibix® (panitumumab) in China through a joint venture. Speaking on Amgen’s most recent quarterly earnings call on July 30, Robert A. Bradway, Amgen’s chairman and CEO, told analysts the company expects Vectibix to be “our first new product for China in the 2015 timeframe.”

“We aim to address unmet medical needs that are particularly relevant for patients in China,” added Mingqiang Zhang, Ph.D., Amgen’s vp of China research and development.

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