UT Health San Antonio and UT Health Houston announced a landmark agreement Friday to grant exclusive global licenses for two biologic therapeutics to AlaMab Therapeutics Inc., a subsidiary of CSPC Pharmaceutical Group, in a deal that could be worth up to $114 million.

The exclusive global license agreements for therapies targeting spinal cord injuries and breast cancer are the most financially significant in UT Health San Antonio history.

“This agreement represents a significant step forward for the entrepreneurial, tech transfer, commercialization, public-private sorts of associations here in San Antonio, [and] is something the city has yearned for,” William Henrich, president of UT Health San Antonio, told the Rivard Report.

CSPC Pharmaceutical Group is a China-based pharmaceutical company with integrated capability in new drug research and development, manufacturing, marketing and sales, and is listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

“AmaLab  is dedicated to the discovery and development of novel biologic entities aimed at addressing unmet medical needs nationwide,” said Weidong Pan, CEO and executive director of CSPC.

Dr. Qingxi “Charles” Wang, UT Health San Antonio President Dr. William Henrich, and Weidong Pan, CEO and executive director of CSPC Pharmaceutical Group. Credit: Roseanna Garza/San Antonio Report

Pan called the agreement “a significant milestone” for CSPC, UT Health San Antonio, and for patients in need of life-saving medical treatment.

An upfront payment of $4.5 million will go toward licensing the technologies, which are based on research by Jean Jiang, a professor of biochemistry and structural biology at UT Health San Antonio’s Joe R. and Theresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.

In studying a group of proteins called connexins, Jiang found one antibody that can inhibit the neural inflammatory reaction and suppress further damage after a spinal cord injury, which may help recovery from such injuries. The second antibody is useful in combatting breast cancer metastasis.

Julie Goonewardene is an associate vice chancellor at the Office of Innovation and Strategic Investment at UT Health San Antonio. She told the Rivard Report that the deal is important because “the lives of people in San Antonio are made better when we can move [research] to the marketplace [and then] to the bedside.”

Turning research successes into practice allows UT Health to continue its mission of ensuring that people do not have to travel outside of San Antonio to receive the best treatment for illness or injury, she said.

“This changes the lives of people and families,” Goonewardene said.

The Office of Technological Commercialization at UT Health San Antonio and the Office of Technological Management at UT Health Houston worked together to protect the intellectual property of Jiang’s research as well as develop a commercial strategy for her discoveries.

“[Researchers] could be churning out great ideas all the time, but we aren’t in the business of launching new drugs,” said John Gebhard, UT Health San Antonio’s assistant vice president, technology commercialization. “Without that [pharmaceutical] commitment and financial resources it doesn’t happen.”

In addition to the $4.5 million AlaMab is paying upfront, UT Health could also receive as much as $114 million in royalty payments if the drugs are approved by the Federal Drug Administration and meet scientific and regulatory goals.

CSPC and AmaLab will seek regulatory approval in the United States, China, and other global markets.

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.