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Athenex Announces Axis Therapeutics Has Entered into a MOU with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to Set Up a Joint Research Center on Cancer Immunotherapy

BUFFALO, N.Y., July 18, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Athenex, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATNX), a global biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of novel therapies for the treatment of cancer and related conditions, today announced that Axis Therapeutics Limited has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to explore the establishment of a joint research center to advance the application of immunotherapy in Hong Kong, with the ultimate objective of offering a novel immunotherapy treatment to cancer patients across the globe.

Axis Therapeutics, a newly established joint venture to be owned as 55% by Athenex and 45% by Xiangxue Life Sciences (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xiangxue Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.), will be primarily focused on the research, development and commercialization of T-cell receptor-engineered T cells (TCR-T), a form of cancer immunotherapy.

Ir Professor Alexander Wai, Vice President (Research Development) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, commented, “We are very excited about this collaboration opportunity with Axis Therapeutics. We have been a long-term partner of Athenex, having collaborated on an oral absorption technology for an anti-cancer drug. We are delighted that Athenex has recently also licensed the pegylated genetically engineered arginase project that initially was developed in our University. We have also witnessed the tremendous growth of Athenex in the last few years and impressed by the Athenex leadership. We are delighted that they have chosen The Hong Kong Polytechnic University for this collaboration and believe this partnership will reinforce Hong Kong’s position as a biotechnology hub in the region.”

Mr. YongHui Wang, CEO of Xiangxue Life Sciences and Chairman and CEO of Xiangxue Pharmaceutical, said, “The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has demonstrated leadership in academia and proven to be at the forefront of collaboration with the industry to translate biotechnology R&D initiatives into products that can be developed in a commercial scale. We have been familiar with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and key faculty members for several years now, having participated in the annual Hong Kong Biotech Innovation Get Together co-hosted by the University, among others, since its inception four years ago. We believe this collaboration will continue to foster our relationship in the biotechnology space.”

Dr. Johnson Lau, Chairman and CEO of Athenex, commented, “Bringing innovative cancer treatment technologies to patients has been a key mission of ours. Xiangxue Life Sciences and we have recently established Axis Therapeutics to focus on developing a best-in-class cancer immunotherapy technology. We look forward to working closely with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in bringing this novel immunotherapy technology to patients in Hong Kong and across the globe.”

About Athenex, Inc.
Founded in 2003, Athenex, Inc. is a global clinical stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to becoming a leader in the discovery and development of next generation drugs for the treatment of cancer. Athenex is organized around three platforms, including an Oncology Innovation Platform, a Commercial Platform and a Global Supply Chain Platform. Athenex’s Oncology Innovation Platform generates clinical candidates through an extensive understanding of kinases, including novel binding sites and human absorption biology, as well as through the application of Athenex’s proprietary research and selection processes in the lab. The Company’s current clinical pipeline is derived from two different platform technologies Athenex calls Orascovery and Src Kinase Inhibition. The Orascovery platform is based on the novel oral P-glycoprotein pump inhibitor molecule HM30181A, through which Athenex is able to facilitate oral absorption of traditional cytotoxics, which Athenex believes may offer improved patient tolerability and efficacy as compared to IV administration of the same cytotoxics. The Orascovery platform was developed by Hanmi Pharmaceuticals and licensed exclusively to Athenex for all major worldwide territories except Korea, which is retained by Hanmi. The Src Kinase Inhibition platform refers to novel small molecule compounds that have multiple mechanisms of action, including the inhibition of the activity of Src Kinase and the inhibition of tubulin polymerization during cell division. Athenex believes the combination of these mechanisms of action provides a broader range of anti-cancer activity as compared to either mechanism of action alone. Athenex’s employees worldwide are dedicated to improving the lives of cancer patients by creating more active and tolerable treatments. Athenex has offices in Buffalo and Clarence, New York; Cranford, New Jersey; Houston, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Hong Kong; Taipei, Taiwan and multiple locations in Chongqing, China. For more information about Athenex, visit 

About the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU)
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University is a public university located in Hung Hom, Hong Kong. The history of PolyU can be traced back to 1937, and it assumed full university status in 1994. It is one of the funded institutions of the territory’s University Grants Committee (UGC). PolyU has an international faculty and student community and has developed a global network with more than 440 institutions in 47 countries and regions. PolyU offers 220 postgraduate, undergraduate and sub-degree programs for more than 30,000 students every year. The availability of over 30 research centers and facilities have fostered ground-breaking multidisciplinary collaborations and research outcomes, with over 3,000 ongoing R&D projects. PolyU plays an important role on cancer drug research and development that the first 3 drug candidates developed in Hong Kong receiving US FDA IND approval were developed by PolyU or had received substantial support from PolyU. For more information about PolyU, visit

About Guangzhou Xiangxue Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (XPH)
Founded in 1997 and is located in Guangzhou Science City, Guangzhou Economic & Technical Development District (GETDD), which is part of the core area of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, or the Greater Bay Area. XPH is a high-tech enterprise integrating manufacturing, operation and R&D of products including pharmaceuticals, biological medicine, functional food, Chinese medicines and medical devices. XPH is recognized as one of pharmaceutical enterprises with most development potential in the industry in China and was listed in Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2010 (stock code: 300147). XPH has directed its attention to leading biomedical technologies since 2012. XPH has built an international cooperative innovation system focusing on focused scientific research led by talent teams to introduce new medical innovative technologies. One important focus is on clinical immunotherapy development using the cutting-edge technologies involving high affinity specific T-cell receptor (TCR). Xiangxue Life Sciences (XLifeSc) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xiangxue Pharmaceutical, focused on TCR-based therapies for cancer and has developed a new generation TCR-T, named TAEST (TCR affinity enhanced specific T-cell-therapy), consisting of the expression of affinity enhanced T-cell receptors on the engineered T-cells to target HLA-antigenic peptide complex on certain types of cancer cells. Early clinical studies in China demonstrated a good safety profile in patients. For more information about XPH, visit  

Investor Relations:
Tim McCarthy
Managing Director, LifeSci Advisors, LLC
Tel: +1 212-915-2564

Athenex, Inc.:
Randoll Sze
Jacqueline Li

Athenex, Inc.

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