(Formerly the Office of the Chief Scientist and MATIMOP)

Israel’s HQL Partners with China’s Longthera to Research Cancer Drug

The partnership between Israel's HQL and China's Longthera was facilitated by MATIMOP, and the companies will be receiving funding totalling US$1.5M to support their breakthrough research.

Israeli start-up HQL Pharmaceuticals has partnered with China’s Longthera Pharmaceuticals to jointly design a novel breakthrough anti-cancer agent.  The partnership, which was arranged through MATIMOP in the Office of the Chief Scientist, provides the two companies with funding totalling US$1.5M to support the breakthrough research.

We spoke with HQL CEO Tal Parnes to better understand the potential: “In order to thrive, a cancerous cell needs to overcome the apoptotic process, through which all healthy cells destroy themselves once they are damaged.  The design of a small molecule that inhibits the BCL2 protein interactions with pro-apoptotic proteins , which was pioneered at Abbott Laboratories, aims to stop the cell from overcoming the apoptotic process, so that the cancerous cell will indeed destroy itself,” explains Parnes. 

Goldman Sachs labelled Bcl-2 inhibitors as one of the 10 drugs that will transform the pharmaceutical industry , but according to Parnes only a handful of companies in the world have the technology required to design the small drug-molecule that will inhibit the interaction between two large protein molecules (PPI- protein-protein interaction inhibitors). Since HQL's CSS computational technology is built to design PPIs, HQL and its Chinese partner saw a big opportunity, and are now in the midst of an intensive joint development process.  


Longthera Pharmaceuticals is a pre-clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, based in the Jiangsu Province, China, an area with a lot of cooperation activity with Israeli companies.  HQL and Longthera connected and applied jointly for the R&D support program. “From the moment that we began the process with MATIMOP, the cooperation really took off,” says Parnes. “They helped make the process move smoothly and quickly with both Longthera and the Chief Scientist.”  According to Parnes, participating in the MATIMOP program not only helped solidify the relationship with Longthera, which is closely tied to Medicilon, one of China’s largest drug developers, but also opened additional doors for HQL in China.


HQL is an Israeli start-up, launched in 2010, which developed a unique ChemSpace Scanner (CSS™) computational technology.  The company has received US$2.5M in investments from private investors to date.  Under the terms of the agreement, HQL and Longthera will jointly continue the development of HQL's anti-cancer apoptosis inducing program targeting the Bcl-2 pathway.  Longthera will receive major part of commercial rights in China , while HQL retains the majority of the commercial rights outside of China. Medicilon, a leading pharmaceutical R&D outsourcing company in China, will provide discovery services for the program, including the development and testing of the drug candidate and initial pre-clinical development for both US FDA and CFDA IND filing.


 Dr. Peng Cheng, CEO of Longthera Pharmaceuticals said: "We are excited about the partnership with HQL and the opportunity to develop a new line of oncology treatment. We will work with Medicilon on its integrated service platform to accelerate the discovery and preclinical development."  


 "Our collaboration with HQL and Longthera on this BCL-2 program is another example of how Medicilon's IND enabling studies platform enables our partners to develop innovative products efficiently and cost-effectively to benefit the world's patients," said Dr. Chun-Lin Chen, CEO of Medicilon.

For more info on China-Israel Cooperation programs, click here. 





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