Lawson licenses sepsis therapeutic to Yabao Pharmaceutical Group

July 24, 2014

A new Canadian-Chinese partnership hopes to produce the first effective specific therapeutic for sepsis. Lawson Health Research Institute announced a licensing agreement with Yabao Pharmaceutical Group (Yabao) to develop and test a new life-saving drug to treat sepsis, a leading cause of death.

Annexin A5 is a naturally-occurring protein that has been discovered to have some unique properties for the treatment of sepsis. Research by Dr. Qingping Feng, a scientist at Lawson and Western University, has shown annexin A5 can produce dramatic therapeutic effects during sepsis, increasing the chances of survival up to five times, even when administered hours after the onset of the condition. Together, Lawson and Yabao hope to produce an effective sepsis therapeutic.

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening medical condition caused by an overwhelming systemic immune response to infection. It causes widespread inflammation that often results in multiple organ failure – in the lungs, brain, liver, kidneys, and heart – and ultimately death. There are roughly 18 million cases of sepsis reported around the world each year, with experts estimating many more unreported, making it a leading cause of death around the world. One in three patients diagnosed with sepsis survive less than a month – a risk of fatality more than three times greater than that associated with heart attack. There is currently no available specific therapy for sepsis. Annexin A5 has the potential to become the first effective option for patients.

“From our preclinical data, annexin A5 looks to be a very promising candidate as a specific treatment of sepsis,” says Dr. Feng. “We are very excited to be working with Yabao to bring this to the next stage of development.”

Yabao Pharmaceutical is one of the top 20 research & development (R&D) organizations in the Chinese pharmaceutical industry, and Shanxi province’s first publically-traded pharmaceutical company. Under the terms of the agreement, Yabao receives exclusive rights to develop and commercialize in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, while Lawson retains rights in all other markets.

“Lawson is committed to the translation of health care discoveries from lab bench to patient bedside,” says Dr. David Hill, Scientific Director, Lawson. “To that end Lawson is pleased to be collaborating with Yabao, a leading Chinese pharmaceutical company with strong drug development capabilities, to develop a promising new drug for the treatment of sepsis, one of the leading causes of death globally.”

“Yabao is pleased to be collaborating with Lawson, a leading Canadian research institute focused on improving the lives of patients through medical discovery." says Dr. Peng Wang, President R&D, Yabao."This opportunity for Yabao to further leading research to develop innovative products is further evidence of Yabao's growing commitment to partner the best science to treat serious diseases in China.”

Dr. Feng is a Scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute, and a Professor in the Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology, and Medicine at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Annexin A5 is protected under patent filed by WORLDiscoveries®, a joint commercialization venture with Lawson, Western University, and Robarts Research Institute. WORLDiscoveries® was the first Canadian technology transfer office to permanently open satellite offices in China, with offices now in Nanjing and Hong Kong.

Group signing agreement
(Front, left to right) Dr. David Hill, Scientific Director, Lawson Health Research Institute; Dr. Peng Wang, Corporate Vice President and President of R&D, Yabao Pharmaceutical Group; (Back, left to right) Dr. Qingping Feng, Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University; Linsheng Yang, Vice President, Shanxi Federation of Industry and Commerce; Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier of Ontario and MPP London North Centre; Joni Baechler, Mayor, City of London; Dr. John Capone, Vice President (Research), Western University; Kirk Brown, Manager, Business Development, Lawson Health Research Institute