Jennerex and Lee’s Pharmaceutical Holdings have forged a collaboration and licence agreement to develop JX-594, a breakthrough biotherapeutic product for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and other cancers in Asia.

The drug, developed through a proprietary breakthrough class of targeted and armed oncolytic and immunotherapeutic poxviruses, is in Phase II trials where it has been shown to destroy tumours in patients with diverse cancer types.

The agreement grants Lee’s exclusive licence to the drug. In return, Jennerex will receive an upfront payment and milestone payments as well as royalties on commercial sales in the licensed territories, which include the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and Macau.

In addition, Lee’s will participate in clinical trials with Jennerex, including pivotal Phase III trials, by funding and managing all clinical trial sites in the PRC and Hong Kong.

Lee’s CEO Dr Benjamin Li said that China reports more than half of the world’s liver cancer cases.

“We are excited to announce this partnership with Jennerex for JX-594. The clinical data observed thus far are very strong, and we believe that there will be great interest in this product candidate in China,” Li said.

JX-594 is in Phase II clinical development for primary liver cancer and Phase I/II for colorectal cancer, and is expected to enter a Phase III pivotal trial in the second half of 2010.