Global healthcare company Roivant Sciences and Chinese drugmaker Sinovant Sciences have launched a new biopharmaceutical firm Cytovant Sciences to cater to patients across Asia.

The new firm will develop and commercialise cellular therapies for diseases that are prevalent in the continent.

Sinovant Sciences was established in July last year as a spin-off from Roivant Sciences to develop new medicines based on biomedical research and development (R&D).

Roivant Health president Benjamin Zimmer said: “The complexities of end-to-end cell therapy manufacturing, development, and commercialisation in Asia require regional focus, specialisation, and knowledge. Roivant and Sinovant have built Cytovant precisely to address these scientific and logistical complexities.”

The newly launched company has entered into a licence and collaboration agreement with German biotechnology company MediGene , which is engaged in creating T cell immunotherapies.

Under the terms of the multi-programme agreement, Cytovant gets exclusive licences to Medigene’s T cell immunotherapy that targets NY-ESO-1, and a DC vaccine that targets WT-1 and PRAME.

“The complexities of end-to-end cell therapy manufacturing, development, and commercialisation in Asia require regional focus, specialisation, and knowledge.”

Cytovant will be able to develop, manufacture and commercialise the products in Greater China, South Korea and Japan.

Besides, the partners also entered into a collaboration and discovery agreement covering T-cell receptor (TCR) immunotherapies for two other targets.

Medigene will leverage its TCR discovery and isolation platform to produce and deliver the TCR constructs specifically tailored for Asian patients.

After the research collaboration period, Cytovant will solely carry out the development and commercialisation of the TCR candidates in relevant countries.

Medigene CEO/CSO Dolores Schendel said: “This partnership implements Medigene’s strategy to discover TCRs with various HLA specificities in order to address different populations and markets.”

As part of the deal, Medigene will receive $10m in overall upfront payment. It is also eligible for more than $1bn in development, regulatory and commercial milestones of the four programmes.

In addition, the company may get royalty payments on net sales of the products in the relevant countries. Cytovant will also reimburse all R&D costs incurred by Medigene as part of this alliance.