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Henlius' Novel Anti-PD-1 mAb HANSIZHUANG (Serplulimab) Approved for the Treatment of ESCC


Shanghai, China, Sep 22nd, 2023 – Shanghai Henlius Biotech, Inc. (2696. HK) announced that the new drug application (NDA) for new indication of HANSIZHUANG (serplulimab injection), an innovative anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody independently developed by the company, in combination with drugs containing fluorouracil and platinum for the first-line treatment of patients with PD-L1 positive unresectable locally advanced/recurrent or metastatic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), has been approved by the National Medical Products Administration (the "NMPA"), providing a new treatment option for patients with ESCC. Up to date, HANSIZHUANG has been approved for the treatment of microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) solid tumors, squamous non-small cell lung cancer (sqNSCLC), and extensive stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC). To further benefit patients, Henlius continues to differentiate and optimize product portfolios and the roadmap of HANSIZHUANG in lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, and other cancers.

Wenjie Zhang, Chairman, and Executive Director of Henlius, remarked, "ESCC is the fourth approved indication of HANSIZHUANG and its approval signifies that this high-quality anti-PD-1 mAb offers a new ray of hope for the treatment of difficult-to-treat gastrointestinal cancer. Since it launched in March 2022, HANSIZHUANG has benefited a wide range of patients with lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, and other tumors, further solidifying its positive reputation with a strong brand effect. Moving forward, we will continue leveraging the strengths of HANSIZHUANG and fully tapping its potential to accelerate market expansion to provide affordable, innovative treatments to more patients worldwide."

Jason Zhu, Executive Director, Chief Executive Officer, President and Chief Financial Officer of Henlius, said, "Henlius is driven by unmet clinical needs and has devoted itself to precision immunotherapy for tumors. We are focusing on major cancer types, steadily expanding the clinical layout of HANSIZHUANG in multiple cancer types, and actively initiating immune combination therapy trials worldwide. The approval of ESCC further validates the potential of HANSIZHUANG and demonstrates the innovation capabilities of Henlius. We look forward to more positive study results of HANSIZHUANG to make further contributions to cancer treatment for more cancer patients."

Prof. Jing Huang, the leading principal investigator of ASTRUM-007, from Cancer Hospital Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said, "ESCC is the most common pathological type of esophageal cancer with high clinical demand and relatively poor overall prognosis. The phase 3 clinical study (ASTRUM-007) on serplulimab plus chemotherapy for unresectable locally advanced/metastatic esophageal cancer achieved promising results, which was conducted on a large sample of the local population and fully demonstrated that serplulimab in combination with chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for locally advanced/metastatic and PD-L1 positive (PD-L1 CPS≥1) esophageal cancer patients can significantly improve progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). We are hoping that serplulimab will benefit more patients in clinical practice."

Providing a new solution for urgent clinical needs

Esophageal cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide as well as a prevalent malignant tumor in China. According to the data, the incidence and mortality of esophageal cancer rank sixth and fourth, respectively, among all malignant tumors in China, of which ESCC is the most common pathological type that accounts for about 85.79% of all esophageal cancer cases[1]. As the symptoms of early esophageal cancer are often subtle, about 70% of patients are diagnosed at mid-to-late stage, missing out on surgical treatment[2]. In recent years, many studies have shown that anti-PD-1 mAb combined with chemotherapy can bring survival benefits to patients with esophageal cancer. Up to date, immune checkpoint inhibitor combined with chemotherapy has become the standard first-line treatment for advanced esophageal cancer in China[3].

The approval was primarily based on ASTRUM-007, a randomized, double-blind, multicenter, phase 3 study aiming to compare the efficacy and safety of serplulimab versus placebo in combination with chemotherapy (5-FU + cisplatin) in patients with previously untreated, PD-L1–positive (PD-L1 CPS≥1), advanced ESCC. According to the study results published in the international leading journal Nature Medicine, serplulimab in combination with chemotherapy significantly improved progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS), its safety was also manageable. Notably, the PD-L1 high-expression group receiving serplulimab combined with chemotherapy gained a greater survival benefit comparing to the intention-to-treat (ITT) group, in the analysis of the group with PD-L1 CPS≥10, the combination of serplulimab and chemotherapy group had a median OS of 18.6 months, with an absolute extension of 4.7 months compared to the control group and a 41% reduction in the risk of death. The results of ASTRUM-007 have been released at many world-class conferences, such as the 2022 ESMO Asia Congress and the 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting, receiving high recognition from the international academic community.

Widening indication coverage for patients worldwide

Henlius focuses on lung and gastrointestinal cancer and promotes the synergy of HANSIZHUANG with innovative therapies, in which more than 10 clinical trials on immuno-oncology combination therapies have been initiated worldwide. As of now, the company has enrolled more than 3,600 subjects, and the global clinical research data will provide strong support for its NDAs in overseas markets. In terms of gastrointestinal cancer, HANSIZHUANG has been approved for the treatment of MSI-H solid tumours, which brings hope to patients with MSI-H colorectal cancer and MSI-H gastric cancer. Furthermore, HANSIZHUANG has led the way with a phase 3 clinical study on neoadjuvant/adjuvant therapies for gastric cancer, striving to benefit gastric cancer patients from the early line of immunotherapy. In the field of lung cancer, HANSIZHUANG has been approved for sqNSCLC and ES-SCLC, making it the world's first anti-PD-1 mAb for the first-line treatment of SCLC. The company also plans to submit a marketing application for HANSIZHUANG as a first-line treatment for non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (nsNSCLC) in China in the second half of 2023. In addition, HANSIZHUANG was also granted orphan drug designations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Commission (EC) for the treatment of SCLC, and its Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) for the first-line treatment of ES-SCLC was validated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in March 2023, with the expectation of approval in the first half of 2024. Henlius also lanuched a head-to-head bridging trial of HANSIZHUANG versus first-line standard-of-care atezolizumab for ES-SCLC in the U.S. and the company plans to submit a Biologics License Application (BLA) for HANSIZHUANG in the U.S. in 2024. Furthermore, Henlius is steadily advancing a global multi-center clinical research of HANSIZHUANG for the limited stage small cell lung cancer (LS-SCLC).

Henlius proactively promotes the commercialization of HANSIZHUANG to enhance its accessibility through multiple dimensions and channels. Up to date, HANSIZHUANG has benefited over 37,000 Chinese patients and has completed the tendering process on the procurement platform in 29 provinces in Chinese mainland and was included into the customized commercial medical insurance directory in 26 Provinces and cities such as Shanghai, Chengdu, Ningbo, Xiamen, Fujian, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, etc. For the overseas market, Henlius forged a partnership with Kalbe Genexine Biologics (KGbio) to grant it an exclusive license to develop and commercialize HANSIZHUANG in relation to its first monotherapy and two combination therapies in 10 Southeast Asian countries. In August 2023, the company further granted KGbio exclusive development and commercialization authorizations of HANSIZHUANG in 12 Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries. In addition, Henlius entered into an exclusive license agreement with Fosun Pharma for the commercialization of HANSIZHUANG in the U.S., aiming to expand the overseas market layout of HANSIZHUANG and reach out to a wider range of global patients.

In the future, Henlius will continue to enhance its capabilities in innovation, manufacturing, and commercialization, dedicating its efforts to the development of a system for precision treatment and translational medicine research and maximizing the clinical value of HANSIZHUANG to set the pace in tumor immunotherapy to deliver warmth and hope to patients all over the globe.


[1] Chen R, Zheng R, Zhang S, et al. Patterns and trends in esophageal cancer incidence and mortality in China: an analysis based on cancer registry data[J]. Journal of the National Cancer Center, 2023.

[2] 王天云, 张瑜, 徐泳, 卢铀, & 彭枫. (2018). 晚期食管鳞癌患者三线化疗疗效及生存分析. 四川省抗癌协会老年肿瘤治疗专委会第三次学术年会暨四川省抗癌协会抗癌药物专业委员会第一次学术年会. 四川省抗癌协会.

[3] 食管癌诊疗指南(2022年版). 中国国家卫生健康委员会.


HANSIZHUANG (recombinant humanized anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody injection, generic name: serplulimab injection) is the first anti-PD-1 mAb for the first-line treatment of SCLC. Up to date, 4 indications are approved for marketing in China, 1 marketing application is under review in the EU, and more than 10 clinical trials are ongoing across the world.

HANSIZHUANG was launched in March 2022 and has been approved by the NMPA for the treatment of MSI-H solid tumours, squamous non-small cell lung cancer (sqNSCLC), extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC), and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Its marketing applications of the first-line treatment for ES-SCLC are under review by the EMA. Focusing on lung and gastrointestinal cancer, the synergy of HANSIZHUANG with in-house products of the company and innovative therapies are being actively promoted. It has successively obtained clinical trial approvals in China, the U.S., the EU and other countries and regions to initiate more than 10 clinical trials on immuno-oncology combination therapies in a wide variety of indications. As of now, the company has enrolled more than 3,600 subjects in China, the U.S., Turkey, Poland, Georgia and other countries and regions, and the proportion of White is over 30% in two MRCTs, making HANSIZHUANG an anti-PD-1 mAb with one of the largest global clinical data pools. The results of 3 pivotal trials of HANSIZHUANG were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)Nature Medicine and the British Journal of Cancer, respectively. Furthermore, HASIZHUANG was recommended by the CSCO Guidelines for Small Cell Lung Cancer, the CSCO Guidelines for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, the CSCO Guidelines for Esophageal Cancer, the CSCO Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer, the CSCO Clinical Practice Guidelines on Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor, the China Guidelines for Radiotherapy of Esophageal Cancer, and other definitive guides, providing valuable references for clinical diagnosis and treatment of tumours. On the other hand, serplulimab was granted orphan drug designations by the U.S. FDA and the EC for the treatment of SCLC, and its bridging head-to-head trial in the United States to compare HANSIZHUANG to standard of care atezolizumab (anti-PD-L1 mAb) for the first-line treatment of ES-SCLC is well under way.

About Henlius

Henlius (2696.HK) is a global biopharmaceutical company with the vision to offer high-quality, affordable, and innovative biologic medicines for patients worldwide with a focus on oncology, autoimmune diseases, and ophthalmic diseases. Up to date, 5 products have been launched in China, 1 has been approved for marketing in overseas markets, 19 indications are approved worldwide, and 2 marketing applications have been accepted for review in the U.S., and the EU, respectively. Since its inception in 2010, Henlius has built an integrated biopharmaceutical platform with core capabilities of high-efficiency and innovation embedded throughout the whole product life cycle including R&D, manufacturing and commercialization. It has established global innovation centers and Shanghai-based manufacturing facilities in line with global Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), including Xuhui Plant certificated by China and the EU GMP and Songjiang First Plant certificated by China GMP.

Henlius has pro-actively built a diversified and high-quality product pipeline covering over 20 innovative monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and has continued to explore immuno-oncology combination therapies with proprietary HANSIZHUANG (anti-PD-1 mAb) as backbone. Apart from the launched products HANLIKANG (rituximab), the first China-developed biosimilar, HANQUYOU (trastuzumab for injection, trade name in Europe: Zercepac®; trade names in Australia: Tuzucip® and Trastucip®), the first China-developed mAb biosimilar approved both in China and Europe, HANDAYUAN (adalimumab) and HANBEITAI (bevacizumab), the innovative product HANSIZHUANG has been approved by the NMPA for the treatment of MSI-H solid tumors, squamous non-small cell lung cancer (sqNSCLC) and extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC), and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), making it the world's first anti-PD-1 mAb for the first-line treatment of SCLC. What's more, Henlius has conducted over 30 clinical studies for 16 products, expanding its presence in major markets as well as emerging markets.