A California-based biomedical company signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Thursday with the Hsinchu County Government and the Council for Economic Planning and Development in a bid to develop a targeted therapy for liver cancer in Taiwan.
According to the MOU, the Polaris Group (北極星集團) is expected to invest NT$1.5 billion (US$49.5 million) to build a research and development center in the Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park, which is scheduled to be completed within three years.
Co-founder and president of the Polaris Group Wu Bor-wen (吳伯文) said that ADI-PEG 20, an arginine-depleting drug, entered phase three clinical trials in the US in July this year for patients with liver cancer.
The drug is expected to obtain global marketing approval in 2014 and achieve a market share of 5 percent, with annual production valued at NT$100 billion, Wu said.
ADI-PEG 20 has also demonstrated anti-tumor activity in more than 10 other types of cancer and could have a market share of 20 percent — the largest market share for any cancer drug — if it proves efficacious in combating all those forms of the disease, he added.
The company decided to establish the center in Hsinchu County because more than 90 percent of its capital comes from Taiwan and the county government has been supportive of the project, Wu said.
Hsinchu County Commissioner Chiu Ching-chun (邱鏡淳) said his administration established an ad hoc committee to oversee the project, because liver cancer was the cancer with the second-highest mortality rate in Taiwan last year and the county is looking forward to the development of the new drug.
The Polaris Group would maintain the license to sell the drug — once it is approved for sale — in Taiwan so that it can prevent local prices from soaring and make it easier for the medication to be covered by the National Health Insurance Program, Wu said.