As an intern at Beike Biotechnology I have been eager to see what opportunities and challenges are presented for an international company based in China, especially one in such a diverse and competitive field like biotechnology. Earlier this week I was grateful to have an exclusive one-on-one interview with Dr. Peter Sun, Head of Global Partnering at Beike Biotech, to get a deeper understanding of how deals are made, and new technologies are acquired and readied for consumers. Dr. Sun has spent his whole career in the Biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, starting off at the bottom and working his way up to being a senior member of one of the largest Biotechnology companies in China. He has experience in Research and Development (R&D), stem cells, and most recently immunotherapy. During the interview we talked about his most recent deal with Altor Bioscience, the future deals he is hoping to complete and what he believes to be the future of medicine.
Dr. Peter Sun, who led the negotiations with Altor Bioscience over the recent licensing agreement, said, “it is too soon to say the deal will generate value to this company, as it has only been 3 months but we anticipate a very successful licensing agreement. At this point we are very optimistic.” This licensing agreement with Altor is over the very promising Alt-803 immunotherapy drug. Alt-803 is currently undergoing Phase 2 trials in the US and is now available for trials in China through Beike Biotech.
Dr. Sun then went on to talk about his favorite aspects of working at Beike. “I enjoy making deals, I enjoy negotiating and identifying valuable partnering opportunities and responding to other people’s incoming requests. Then negotiating the deals and finding a win-win situation. I think this is a very exciting process, as well as valuable. I deeply believe that value is created in making transactions, that’s very basic economics 101.” After the Altor agreement Dr. Sun has kept on searching for a new deal with which he hopes can make Beike a more influential company in the immunotherapy field.
Dr. Sun’s newest focus has been on immunotherapy believing that it is “the next big thing or is already the big thing” in modern medicine. Dr. Sun and Beike are looking to make more deals with companies leading the way in this field. Dr. Sun believes this next deal could “potentially create tremendous success for the company through new products or services for patients. Just this morning [he] was negotiating a part of the agreement.” However, Dr. Sun displayed an understanding of the importance of the many different aspects of a major deal by talking about having “internal negotiations with R&D, marketing, [and] manufacturing because when you sign a deal these are the people who will interact and be integrated with the other company.” Without revealing too many details about this upcoming new deal, it seems that he is very invested in it and flew 15 hours just to have some negotiations over dinner. One thing that can be said for sure is that Dr. Sun loves what he does and does it in a professional and personal manner.
The Future of Immunotherapy
Dr. Sun was kind enough to give me a few insights into what he calls “the Immunotherapy revolution.” He talked about the up coming drugs currently being accepted for use on patients. “The FDA has already approved a number of immunotherapeutic drugs, basically PD-1 blockers. This is a part of the immunotherapy revolution.” These treatments, such as chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CART), are working on late stage cancer patients who have already failed chemo. CART is a very exciting drug that is showing high response rates. The therapy works by re-engineering a patient’s own T-cells to attack the cancerous tumor and kill the cancer cells. The really exciting part about this treatment is that once the cancer is cleared the T-cells then become memory cells, which can then be reactivated when they come into contact with cancerous cells again. There has been some very significant funding into this area such as Seattle based start up company Juno Therapeutics receiving over 300 million US$ in private funding and then a further 240 million from its initial release of stocks into the public market. Juno now has an estimated worth of over 3 billion USD.
The Future of Medicine
As modern medicine progresses, new innovative ideas open new fields of study. Dr. Sun shared his thoughts on the development of medicine. “In Pharmaceuticals we have gone through small molecules, proteins and now there is a third pillar of medicine: cell therapy. Cell therapy can do something that a molecular drug cannot. For example, stem cells [they] can do regenerative medicine in a way that a molecule drug cannot.” He went on to say that “when you inject a certain dose of a drug, the concentration only goes down and will eventually come out but it cannot increase in concentration. But cell therapy can.” This insight is very important and may shape the future of medicine if it can provide long lasting effective results.
It was a great pleasure to learn more about one of Beike’s driving forces. The future of medicine and business in China seems bright.
Thank you for reading,
Beike Biotech Intern