News & Information | START In The News

January 27th, 2011

START will open China's first center for early phase oncology trials

SAN ANTONIO, TX (January 28, 2010)

Fudan San Antonio-based START (South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics) announced today it will open START Shanghai in July, 2011 --a joint venture between START and the China-based venture capital firm, Cenova Ventures. START Shanghai will be China’s first oncology program created to provide patients with innovative early phase anti-cancer drugs, and will be located at Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, Shanghai’s largest cancer hospital. Fudan has an estimated 600,000 patient visits per year. START Shanghai is the third in START’s planned network of global satellite Phase I clinical research sites which includes START Madrid, the organization’s first non-U. S. based site which opened in 2009, and START San Antonio, the flagship site, which opened in 2007.

A profoundly different approach to cancer research

Cancer is a global problem and will be solved only by an integrated global research strategy. START operates the world’s largest Phase I clinical trials program with senior clinical investigators who are among the most respected in the field of anti-cancer drug development and a coordinated network of Phase I sites. Its model of locating START Phase I centers in strategic locations around the globe allows for a profoundly different approach to oncology research that uses a round-the-clock system of integrated clinical trial research and makes the newest Phase I drugs available to end stage cancer patients who live in places where there is limited access to these therapies.

Anthony W. Tolcher, M.D., FRCP(C), clinical director for START and acclaimed cancer researcher, is the principal architect of the global enterprise. Tolcher said, “Our singular mission is to accelerate the development of new therapies by taking the unique skills and unequalled expertise that has been cultivated at START and expanding it to other strategic locations around the world.”

Like its predecessor, START Madrid, START Shanghai will be fully representative of the flagship center in San Antonio and will operate according to the same exceptional operating procedures and quality controls. “When researchers are ending the day in one START location, our colleagues will be starting their day and will pick up right where we left off.”

Tolcher added, “Patients come to START from all over the world because of the number of trials we offer and the caliber of the researchers. Now, patients can be entered into a clinical trial at any of the three sites and data management from the unified program will be delivered and analyzed rapidly to hasten the
time to successful results.”

A “game-changer” in early phase oncology drug development

The US Chinese Anti-cancer Association (USCACA), a not-for-profit organization instrumental in working with academia, government, and industry partners, both in China and the US, to promote novel cancer drug
R&D in China, reports that while significant progress has been made in the last decade to
develop the infrastructure for cancer drug research in China, access to the newest drugs and the newest breakthroughs is still a challenge because of the lack of early clinical trials in China.

Li Yan, MD, PhD, USCACA’s managing partner, calls this news a “game changer” for China and for cancer research, because it is the “first fully integrated venture established in China dedicated to early phase clinical research of anti-cancer drugs.” Yan, a native of China who now lives in the US, says he is very pleased. “By leveraging START’s well-established medical expertise, standard practices, and information technology, START Shanghai will bring new hope to cancer Chinese patients by giving them safe and prompt access to the newest anti-cancer drugs. We congratulate Dr. Tolcher and the START team on this milestone achievement.

Gina Mangold, START’s COO, calls the creation of START Shanghai “nothing short of revolutionary.” She said, “Next up is training staff, renovating clinical space, purchasing equipment and securing sponsors.” She added, “We expect to enroll our first patient in July.”

START Shanghai’s joint venture partner, Jun Wu, Ph.D., chairman and managing partner for Cenova Ventures, said, “We are one of the few industry specific RMB venture funds with a mission focused on investing critical infrastructures and innovations in the life science and healthcare arena in China, and we are very pleased to be working with such a pioneer in the field.”

Walter Lau, Ph.D., managing partner for Cenova Ventures, added, “We expect many future innovations in the pharmaceutical industry will come from clinical development in China. START Shanghai is set up to become an important gateway for U.S. based pharmaceutical/biotech companies going into China and for China-based pharmaceutical companies wanting to go beyond China. We want to do our part to enhance oncology drug development for Chinese patients who deserve the best treatment options.”

About START Shanghai

START Shanghai will occupy approximately 5,000 square feet on the 4th floor of Fudan Cancer Center. Carol Zhu will serve as CEO for START Shanghai. She holds an MBA from Rutgers University and a B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Peking University.

Zhu calls the benefits that START Shanghai will have on clinical research in China, “enormous.” Now, late stage cancer patients in China will have first-ever access to early phase drugs which could be their only new treatment hope. Pharmaceutical companies and drug sponsors wanting to do business in China will now have a partner with a proven track record of conducting high quality early phase trials.

Joining Zhu will be a team of physicians, research nurses, pharmacists and data managers.

START Shanghai, Fudan together will play a key role in accelerating cancer research

Shanghai is a modern city of 19 million people with the infrastructure, and educated workforce that is needed for this sophisticated level of medical research. According to START, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center (FUSCC) was chosen because of the significant expertise of the physicians located at the center along with the hospital’s visionary approach to cancer clinical trials.

Professor Guoliang Jiang, president of FUSCC said, “Fudan was one of the earliest hospitals to be licensed by the State Food and Drug Administration for experimental drug tests.” He said, “The agreement signifies a new collaboration in the development of novel anti-cancer drugs. The partnership is mutually beneficial.” Jiang said, “For us, we can learn the American experience in drug development, improve our system in drug tests and increase our center’s impact in the world. We are excited about this collaboration.”

Dr. Jin Li, Fudan’s director of the Department of Medical Oncology for FUSCC said, ”Among the many clinical trials we have done, most were late-stage such as phase II or III studies. It is important for us to upgrade our capabilities in conducting early phase and first-time-in-human (FTIH) clinical studies. We are very excited to work with START to build a joint Phase I Clinical Research Center within Fudan.” He said, “The impact of earlier access to novel anti-cancer agents for patients with late stage cancer can not be overemphasized.” He said, “Now we can advance our overall research abilities to better serve the patients and Shanghai. Moreover, our clinical investigators will be able to play a more
influential academic role, both locally and globally.“

News Puts San Antonio Centerstage In Cancer Research

City of San Antonio councilwoman, Elisa Chan, District 9, herself a native of China and the City’s point person on SA/ China relations said of the announcement, “With San Antonio’s emergence on the global stage, especially after the Shanghai World Expo, I believe START’s decision to expand into China will help continue to strengthen the relationship between San Antonio and China.” She said, “I also believe that this collaboration will improve the capacity of our Phase I clinical trials in San Antonio and make START an even greater success.” “The more our local businesses do well, the more robust our local economy becomes.”

Kenneth P. Trevett, chairman of BioMed SA, a non-profit industry cluster organization that represents San Antonio’s healthcare and bioscience sector said, “Cancer research is one of the core competencies of San Antonio’s biomedical sector, and San Antonio institutions have a long tradition of international collaboration and cooperation,” “The START initiatives in both China and Spain extend the reach of “best practices” in cancer clinical research and care well beyond our boundaries and carry on this important tradition. Furthermore, we learn a great deal from our international partners. San Antonio bioscience and medicine are having a huge impact on the health of our global community, one that will only broaden and deepen in the years ahead.”
 

South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics (START) directs clinical trials of novel anticancer agents using a high quality and innovative information technology infrastructure to ensure accurate and rapid clinical trials in a setting that emphasizes personalized and compassionate clinical care. START’s head office is located in the heart of the San Antonio Medical Center. With centers located in San Antonio, Texas and Madrid, Spain, START conducts the world’s largest Phase I medical oncology program – putting more than 400 patients per year on Phase I trials. START consists of a team of highly trained physicians and staff with extensive experience in Phase I clinical trials research and are nationally recognized as thought leaders in cancer research and drug development. For more information on START Shanghai call START at (210) 593-5250.

The Cenova Venture Fund , located in Shanghai, is a newly formed healthcare RMB fund dedicated to China healthcare industry, and its main focus is on companies with significant growth potential in China healthcare sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical devices, diagnostics, and healthcare services. It is uniquely positioned in the China healthcare sector because it is the first attempt by the central and local government to back a life science venture fund that operates through a mechanism and structure that largely follows international standard practices, managed by independent healthcare investment professionals.