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Jiangsu Science and Technology Weekly People - Yu Qiang: No "old" drugs, no coincidences, down-to-earth new drugs for diabetes

  • Categories:Media
  • Author:Jiangsu Science and Technology Newspaper Creators Weekly
  • Origin:Jiangsu Science and Technology Newspaper Creators Weekly
  • Time of issue:2018-11-13
  • Views:0

(Summary description)Talkative, fast-talking, with a head for management and financing, Yu Qiang, the founder and CEO of CGeneTech (Suzhou, China) Co., Ltd, seems to have more entrepreneurial flair than most entrepreneurs who come from a research and development background. In fact, from undergraduate to post-doctoral studies, he has been doing solid scientific research until he was hit by a forum "entrepreneurial nerve", then he stepped into the field of entrepreneurship, and since then, he has been making great efforts in management, research and development, and strategic layout, and has developed a territory of domestic new drug development.

Jiangsu Science and Technology Weekly People - Yu Qiang: No "old" drugs, no coincidences, down-to-earth new drugs for diabetes

(Summary description)Talkative, fast-talking, with a head for management and financing, Yu Qiang, the founder and CEO of CGeneTech (Suzhou, China) Co., Ltd, seems to have more entrepreneurial flair than most entrepreneurs who come from a research and development background. In fact, from undergraduate to post-doctoral studies, he has been doing solid scientific research until he was hit by a forum "entrepreneurial nerve", then he stepped into the field of entrepreneurship, and since then, he has been making great efforts in management, research and development, and strategic layout, and has developed a territory of domestic new drug development.

  • Categories:Media
  • Author:Jiangsu Science and Technology Newspaper Creators Weekly
  • Origin:Jiangsu Science and Technology Newspaper Creators Weekly
  • Time of issue:2018-11-13
  • Views:0

Talkative, fast-talking, with a head for management and financing, Yu Qiang, the founder and CEO of CGeneTech (Suzhou, China) Co., Ltd, seems to have more entrepreneurial flair than most entrepreneurs who come from a research and development background. In fact, from undergraduate to post-doctoral studies, he has been doing solid scientific research until he was hit by a forum "entrepreneurial nerve", then he stepped into the field of entrepreneurship, and since then, he has been making great efforts in management, research and development, and strategic layout, and has developed a territory of domestic new drug development.

 

Poorly treated" employees who value growth space voluntarily take "50% off" salary

As a company focusing on new drug development, CGeneTech's employees are mainly in R&D positions, more than three-quarters of them are R&D staff, and more than 50% of the technical staff have a master's degree or above. Yu Qiang said that most of the company's talents come from within the province, which shows that the talent training of universities and research institutes in Jiangsu Province fully matches the needs of high-tech enterprises, which is a very good phenomenon.

When it comes to highly educated talents, the reporter thought he would hear a story of "eager to hire, high salary", but he did not expect that Yu Qiang was a bit "stingy" to highly educated talents.

As we all know, it is very expensive to make new drugs, but CGeneTech only burned 20 million RMB before getting the Series A financing. Yu Qiang told reporters that the secret of "saving money" is that the founding team, including him, hardly took any salary, and many employees were only paid half the market rate before the Series A financing came in. "Of course, we can't keep squeezing our employees. Once the company got its Series A funding, we increased staff salaries and gave them equity incentives and other policies."

Asked about the secret of keeping people on low pay, Yu Qiang said sincerely that the staff were indeed infected by the enthusiasm of the founders and attracted by the company's bright development prospects.

In this regard, Pan Huiping, the "post-85" director of CGeneTech, has a deep understanding of this. Pan Huiping previously worked for a large pharmaceutical company such as Kang Yuan Pharmaceutical, and participated in the development of several new drugs. In the company, everyone calls her "Pan Shuang" because she is the director of both the formulation department and the project operations department.

"After making her the double director, we are continuing to train her, for example, by letting her participate in the CEO training courses held in the park and letting her represent the company in the 'Start-up Jiangsu' science and technology entrepreneurship competition, and so on. We want to cultivate a talent ladder so that Shengshi TaiTech can become a company that continues to grow and innovate." Yu Qiang said, doing innovative drugs is a very risky project, through the talent ladder training, even if the company has a project failed, there are new projects can continue; even if the person who did the project left the company, can still continue to shine in the pharmaceutical industry.

Yu Qiang said, only looking at the "money" CGeneTech is definitely not the highest in the industry, but the company is willing to provide space and opportunities for employees to grow, willing to help employees to enhance their experience and broaden their horizons, which is the most important factor that many talents are willing to come from other companies to CGeneTech, and also willing to stay.

"Late awakening to the concept of venture capital in the post-graduate period

From attracting talent to financing, Yu Qiang's clear thinking and fluent expression would make people think that he is a natural entrepreneur. In fact, Yu Qiang comes from a "prestigious family" and has been doing solid research since he was an undergraduate, but it was only during his post-doctoral period that he was exposed to the concept of "entrepreneurship" and "investment" and knew that there was an alternative path to research. It was only during his post-doctoral period that he was introduced to the concept of "entrepreneurship" and "investment".

In 1990, Yu Qiang graduated from the Chemistry Department of Peking University and completed his bachelor's thesis in the research group of academician Xing Qiyi, before joining the national "863" project at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He then continued his post-doctoral research under the supervision of Professor Ronald Borchardt, then President of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS).

Yu Qiang told reporters that his PhD supervisor was a "very interesting" person, his lab had people specialising in biological target research, medicinal chemistry and drug evaluation ....... It was in this atmosphere that he gained a macroscopic understanding of the whole process of new drug development, with every group meeting taking place from morning to night.

During his post-doctoral period, Professor Borchardt liked to hold various small forums, including one to help researchers with their career planning, and it was during this forum that Yu Qiang first heard about the concept of "entrepreneurship" and "investment" and learned that researchers He learnt that researchers could also be entrepreneurs.

In 2005, Qiang Yu founded CGENETECH independently in the United States and developed a technology strategy that focused on the design of new drug precursor molecules, targeting the world market for new drug development.

After graduating with a master's degree, Yu Qiang's college friend Ding Torping started his own business in China, and the two have kept in touch with each other and shared many of the same business ideas. After founding CGENETECH in the US, Yu Qiang also started a business collaboration with Ding Torping. Later on, Yu Qiang returned to China and founded CGENETECH with Ding Torping and two of his fellow academics under Xing Qiyi.

It was also at CGENETECH that he discovered a precursor molecule for the treatment of type II diabetes. Later, Centigliptin, a targeted drug based on this precursor molecule, became CGeneTech's flagship product.

Research and development "slow" and reworked to achieve better results

Yu Qiang introduced Shenggliptin, a DPP-4 inhibitor, a targeted drug for the treatment of type II diabetes. 2006, the US company Merck came out with the first DPP-4 inhibitor selegiline. As DPP-4 inhibitors are effective in lowering sugar and do not cause side effects such as obesity and hypoglycaemia, this drug now accounts for 27% of the global diabetes drug market.

At CGENETECH, Yu Qiang discovered a precursor molecule that could have a similar effect to that of selegiline. While learning about diabetes, he learned a surprising fact - China is a major diabetic country, with the highest number of diabetics in the world, but the level of treatment still lags behind compared to Europe and the US. At the same time, Yu Qiang heard the news that the country was beginning to attach importance to the biomedical industry, and in 2010, he returned home with such molecules, determined to make a new class of drug of his own.

With a promising new drug project, CGeneTech was soon awarded a project by the National 12th Five-Year Plan for the creation of major new drugs. However, after starting animal experiments, Yu Qiang found that the new drug did not work as well as expected. Yu Qiang has a mantra of "no 'old' drugs" to emphasise to his partners the importance of the timeliness of new drug development. However, in order to achieve better results, he decided to turn the research around and redesign the new drug, which delayed the whole project by one to two years.

In the last two years, an investor has asked Yu Qiang the question: "You have been working on Shengliptin for so long, why have you only made it this far? In response, Yu Qiang replied with certainty: "We were indeed a year or two late, but the drug was much more effective after the redo."

At present, Shengliptin is in the clinical trial phase. According to the results of the 80 clinical trials that have been carried out, there are fewer side effects compared to selegiline, which requires a service of 100 mg per day, while selegiline only requires 50 mg per day.

The birth of a new drug is so difficult that not long ago, Yu Qiang had a "scare" and a surprise with Shengliptin. Yu Qiang was in the United States at the time, local time was in the morning, while in China it was after 10pm, when he suddenly received a phone call from Ding Torping. The late-night phone call startled Yu Qiang, whose first thought was that something was wrong with the clinical trial. "As it turned out, it was the authoritative expert in charge of the clinical trial who looked at our data and felt that the drug-forming properties were too good to be true, so he excitedly called Mr Ding, who was also thrilled to hear the news, so he immediately shared the good news with me. Because the expert took the initiative to make this call in the middle of the night, it shows that he really approves of our new drug."

In addition to Shengliptin, CGeneTech is also laying out new drug development projects in the areas of cancer and rare diseases in a planned manner. Currently, the company's new Class III drug teriflunomide, developed for the rare disease multiple sclerosis, has also received clinical approval and is expected to be available for sale in China by 2020 at the latest. Yu Qiang said that on 22 May this year, the Health Planning Commission announced the first batch of rare disease catalogues, and multiple sclerosis is among them, with about 30,000-50,000 people suffering from this disease in China. The price of the allopathic drug currently approved for entry into China is more than RMB10,000 per month, while teriflunomide sells for about two-thirds of the price of the imported drug. He hopes that the new domestic drug will bring hope to Chinese patients with rare diseases.

(记者:刘丽媛)

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